Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing problems. Fortunately, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely out of your house. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are cracked, CO can get into your home.

While professional furnace repair in Kutztown and Breinigsville can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to recognize the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll review more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family healthy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is released. It usually disperses over time as 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 considered a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels can climb 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 recognizing faint traces of CO and notifying you using the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is combusted. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace because of its availability and inexpensive price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

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

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's ability to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous 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 complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less serious ones) are easily mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members suffering from symptoms at the same time, it may be evidence that there's CO gas in your home. If you believe you have CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and call 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, contact a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should determine where the gas is coming from.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal off the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a bit of time to locate the correct spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can manage 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 somewhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run around the clock, wasting energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal indoors. Not only will it make 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 have a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Kutztown and Breinigsville. A damaged or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms notice CO gas much sooner than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, not to mention the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping enough time to exit the home. It's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, especially large homes should consider even more CO detectors for equal protection for the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the aforementioned recommendations, you should have three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing the leak when it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Kutztown and Breinigsville to trained experts like Moyer Total Indoor Comfort. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.