Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels such as oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can cause all sorts of health and breathing issues. Fortunately, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But in the event a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might leak out into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Rock Hill can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to know the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll offer up more info 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 made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally breaks up over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without anyone noticing. This is the reason why it's essential to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for recognizing faint traces of CO and notifying everyone in the house via the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is burnt. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular as a result of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that use these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace creates is normally released safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation because they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. A shortage of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're in contact with harmful levels of CO over a long period of time, you could experience the following symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less serious signs) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms at the same time, it might be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and contact 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are treated. Then, contact a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and seal the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take some time to find the right spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is adequately vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or someplace else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that emit carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run night and day, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal indoors. Not only does it create a mess, but it's also a source of 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, ensure the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Rock Hill. A broken or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much earlier than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping plenty of time to exit the home. It's also a great 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 think about installing extra CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the above recommendations, you'd want to put in three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than resolving the leak after it’s been located. An easy way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Rock Hill to certified experts like US Air Heating and Cooling. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.