Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuel like oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can lead to a lot of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But in the event a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are broken, CO could get into your house.

While high quality furnace repair in Arlington can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to recognize the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family safe.

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 combusts, carbon monoxide is created. It generally scatters over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach more potent concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could climb without anybody noticing. That's why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for discerning evidence of CO and alerting your family using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any kind of fuel is combusted. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular because of its availability and affordable price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that use these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we outlined before, the carbon monoxide your furnace creates is usually removed safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they offer 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 breathed in, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capacity to transport oxygen through 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 affects every part of the body. If you're in contact with harmful levels of CO over a long period of time, you can experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even steeper levels, the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less severe symptoms) are often mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it could be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you have CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and call 911. Medical providers can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, get in touch with a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is coming from.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and seal off the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a while to uncover the correct spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no clogs in the flue pipe or someplace else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, like 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 night and day, wasting energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it leave a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, make sure 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 Arlington. A broken or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms recognize CO gas much faster than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

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

Suppose a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the previously mentioned recommendations, you'd want to install three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

  • One alarm should be set up close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm should be set up close to the kitchen.
  • While 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 repairing the leak once it’s been located. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Arlington to certified professionals like Service Max Heating & Air Conditioning. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.