Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels such as oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of your house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are loose, CO could leak out into the house.

While high quality furnace repair in Ellsworth can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to recognize the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll review more information 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 something such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It usually dissipates over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a dangerous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels may climb without anybody noticing. This is why it's essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is capable of identifying the presence of CO and alerting everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any type of fuel is burnt. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace due to its prevalence and affordable price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that require these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

Like we stated before, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is usually released safely outside of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they have proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capacity to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. A shortage of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're in contact with harmful levels of CO over a long period of time, you might experience the following symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (especially the less severe signs) are often mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms at the same time, it might be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you suspect you have CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and call 911. Medical providers can make sure your symptoms are controlled. Then, get in touch with a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is escaping.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and seal the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take some time to locate the correct spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can manage to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no blockages in the flue pipe or somewhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run constantly, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it create a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Try not to use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Ellsworth. A broken or faulty furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms notice CO gas much quicker than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, not to mention the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping plenty of time to exit the home. It's also a great idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, especially large homes should look at extra CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the previously mentioned guidelines, you should put in three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than fixing the leak after it’s been discovered. An easy way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Ellsworth to licensed professionals like Walter's-Eaton's Electric, Plumbing, Heating & AC. They recognize how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.