Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels including oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can result in a lot of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are built with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But in the event a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might leak out into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Middletown can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll review more information about carbon monoxide so you can take 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 ignites, carbon monoxide is released. It normally scatters over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a harmful gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels may rise without anybody noticing. This is why it's vital to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of recognizing the presence of CO and warning your family via the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any form of fuel is burned. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular because of its prevalence and low price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that require these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is usually removed safely away from 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 grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can 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, getting in the way of your body's capability to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. A shortage of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you may experience the following symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (namely the less serious ones) are easily mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members struggling with symptoms simultaneously, it might be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and call 911. Medical experts can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, call a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and fix the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a while to uncover 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. See to it that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or somewhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running night and day, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal indoors. Not only does it create a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Middletown. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much sooner than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping enough time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should look at even more CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the above recommendations, you'd want to set up three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm can be installed close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm should be installed around the kitchen.
  • While the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or inside bedrooms.

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than fixing the leak after it’s been located. A great way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Middletown to certified experts like SchagrinGAS Company. They recognize how to install your chosen make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.