Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels such as oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can lead to all kinds of health and breathing complications. Thankfully, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely out of your house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are cracked, CO can leak out into your home.

While high quality furnace repair in Marshfield can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to learn the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll offer up more information about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan 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 flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is created. It normally scatters 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 viewed as a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels may climb without anybody noticing. This is why it's important to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is capable of recognizing faint traces of CO and notifying everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind of fuel is combusted. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular because of its availability and inexpensive price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many 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 the furnace produces is usually vented safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems due to the fact that they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's ability to transport oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're in contact with hazardous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you could 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 large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less severe symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it might be a sign that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and contact 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, get in touch with a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should find where the gas is escaping.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

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

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or someplace else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running around the clock, wasting energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside. Not only does it leave a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't 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 vent out of the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Marshfield. A broken down or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much earlier than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, including the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, especially large homes should look at extra CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the aforementioned suggestions, you'll want to have three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing the leak once it’s been located. A great way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Marshfield to certified specialists like House of Heating Incorporated. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.