Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels such as oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can lead to all kinds of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But in the event a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can get into your home.

While high quality furnace repair in Beckley and Mount Hope can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to be familiar with the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share 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 consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is released. It generally breaks up over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach higher concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without anyone noticing. This is why it's important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is capable of recognizing evidence of CO and warning your family using the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any form of fuel is burned. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace due to its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we stated before, the carbon monoxide your furnace emits is ordinarily released safely away from your home with the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they offer proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capability to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. A shortage of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're in contact with harmful concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you may 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 detrimental. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less severe ones) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it may be a sign that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you suspect you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and call 911. Medical experts can make sure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a professional technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should identify where the gas is coming from.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and fix the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a while to find the right 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 reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that create carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run constantly, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it leave a mess, but it will also emit 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 leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Beckley and Mount Hope. A damaged or faulty furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms detect CO gas much earlier than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's important to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, as well as the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping plenty of time to exit the home. It's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or a water heater. Lastly, very large homes should look at extra CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

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

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

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak when it’s been found. A great way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Beckley and Mount Hope to trained experts like Appalachian Heating. They know how to install your ideal make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.