Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels including oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can trigger all kinds of health and breathing problems. Thankfully, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are loose, CO could get into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Longview can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to recognize the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll share more information about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps 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 something like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is created. It generally dissipates over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide can 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 somebody noticing. This is the reason why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is capable of recognizing the presence of CO and warning you via the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind of fuel is ignited. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace because of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that use these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace produces is normally vented safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide problems due to the fact that they have sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After 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 capability to move oxygen throughout 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 subjected to dangerous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you could experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even higher levels, the potential health problems of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less severe ones) are easily mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms at the same time, it can be indicative that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house immediately and call 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are managed. Then, get in touch with a professional technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a while to locate the exact spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or someplace else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run constantly, wasting energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it leave a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Try not to use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Longview. A damaged or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much earlier than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping plenty of time to get out. It's also a good idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should think about installing additional CO detectors for uniform protection for the entire house.

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

  • One alarm can be set up close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm can be placed near the kitchen.
  • Both the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or within bedrooms.

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak when it’s been located. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Longview to certified experts like Goode Bros AC & Heating. They understand how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.