Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels such as oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can lead to a lot of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely away from your house. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are cracked, CO could get into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Excelsior Springs can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to learn the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll offer up more information about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is released. It normally breaks up over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach more potent concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without anyone noticing. This is the reason why it's vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is ideal for identifying faint traces of CO and alerting you with the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind of fuel is burnt. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace because of its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we outlined above, the carbon monoxide a furnace produces is usually removed safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they have sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's ability to move oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Insufficient oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're subjected to hazardous concentrations 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 more potent levels, the potential health problems of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less serious ones) are frequently mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms at the same time, it could be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and contact 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will identify where the gas is coming from.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and seal the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a bit of time to uncover the correct spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or anywhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that create carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it create a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Excelsior Springs. A broken down or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's crucial to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, as well as the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping sufficient time to get out. It's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, especially large homes should look at even more CO detectors for uniform protection for the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you'll want to put in three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always better than repairing the leak once it’s been found. An easy way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Excelsior Springs to licensed specialists like Colvin's Heating and Cooling. They know how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.