Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels including oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can trigger a lot of health and breathing issues. Fortunately, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But in the event a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO could leak out into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Opelika can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to recognize the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll share more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family breathing easy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally breaks up over time since CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels may rise without anyone noticing. This is why it's essential to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's ideal for recognizing faint traces of CO and warning everyone in the house via the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is ignited. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular due to its availability and affordable price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide your furnace produces is normally vented safely away from your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they possess adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capacity to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Lack of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to harmful quantities of CO over a long period of time, you can experience a number of symptoms:

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

At even steeper levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it can be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you believe you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and contact 911. Medical providers can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, get in touch with a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will find where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and seal the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a while to locate the correct spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or somewhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running constantly, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only will it make a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Opelika. A damaged or faulty furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much faster than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, as well as the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, very large homes should think about installing extra CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above recommendations, you'd want to install three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

  • One alarm should be mounted close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm can be placed around the kitchen.
  • Both the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or in bedrooms.

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing the leak after it’s been discovered. A great way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Opelika to certified specialists like Farnell Mechanical, Inc.. They know how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.