Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels including oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can result in a lot of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are broken, CO can leak into your home.

While high quality furnace repair in Kearney can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll offer up more information about carbon monoxide so you can take 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 ignites, carbon monoxide is released. It generally dissipates over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach more potent concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without anyone noticing. This is why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of recognizing evidence of CO and alerting you with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any form of fuel is ignited. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace because of 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 use these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we outlined earlier, the carbon monoxide the furnace emits is ordinarily released safely outside of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained 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 adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents 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. Insufficient oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're subjected to dangerous levels of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a variety of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (especially the less dangerous symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members suffering from symptoms at the same time, it may be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, exit the house right away and call 911. Medical providers can make sure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

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

  1. See to it that your furnace is properly vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or someplace else that could 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 increase ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it leave 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 compact spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Kearney. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much faster than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's vital to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. Finally, very large homes should consider extra CO detectors for equal protection for the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the aforementioned suggestions, you'd want to install three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing the leak after it’s been found. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Kearney to licensed experts like Thurston Heating & Air Conditioning. They know how to install your ideal make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.