Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuel like oil and natural gas to provide 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 cause all kinds of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might leak into the house.

While high quality furnace repair in Georgetown can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to recognize the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll offer up more info 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 made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is created. It generally disperses over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach more potent concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's regarded as a dangerous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels may climb without someone noticing. That's why it's vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for identifying faint traces of CO and alerting everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any type of fuel is burnt. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular because of its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that use these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we outlined before, the carbon monoxide a furnace emits is normally vented safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's ability to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. A shortage of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to harmful quantities 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 higher levels, the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous ones) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members struggling with symptoms at the same time, it could be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and call 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should find where the gas is leaking.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and seal the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take some time 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 manage to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or someplace else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run constantly, squandering energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal indoors. Not only will 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 compact spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Georgetown. A broken down or faulty furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much sooner than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's crucial to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Focus 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 install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. Lastly, very large homes should think about installing extra CO detectors for uniform protection for the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the aforementioned suggestions, you should set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak once it’s been found. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Georgetown to trained specialists like Miller Climate Control LLC. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.