Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels including oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can lead to all sorts of health and breathing issues. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But when a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are loose, CO can leak into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Mechanicsburg can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to learn the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll review more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family healthy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is released. It usually breaks up over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without anyone noticing. This is the reason why it's essential to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for recognizing the presence of CO and warning you via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is burned. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular because of its wide availability and low price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that require these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, such as:

  • Water heaters
  • Stoves
  • Ovens
  • Fireplaces
  • Wood stoves
  • Hot tubs
  • and more

Like we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide your furnace generates is ordinarily released safely out of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they offer proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's ability to transport oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. A shortage of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're in contact with harmful quantities of CO over a long period of time, you may experience a variety of symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

At even steeper levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less severe signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms at the same time, it can be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, leave the house straight away and contact 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are managed. Then, call a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is escaping.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and fix the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take some time to uncover the exact spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that create carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running night and day, squandering energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it leave a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Mechanicsburg. A broken or faulty furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most important, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much earlier than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping adequate time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should look at additional CO detectors for uniform protection for the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above recommendations, you should set up three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm could be placed around the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm should be put in around the kitchen.
  • While the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or in bedrooms.

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak once it’s been found. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Mechanicsburg to certified specialists like H & H Service Company. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.