Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels such as oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can trigger a lot of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are broken, CO could leak into the house.

While quality furnace repair in Plover can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to learn the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share more information 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 consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is released. It normally scatters over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without anyone noticing. This is the reason why it's essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for discerning faint traces of CO and alerting you via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any kind of fuel is burned. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular because of its prevalence and affordable price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that utilize 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 ordinarily released safely away from your home through the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they possess sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's ability to transport 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 harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to harmful levels of CO over a long period of time, you could experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even higher levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. 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 signs) are easily mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it can be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, exit the house right away and contact 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, call a certified technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will find where the gas is leaking.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a while to find the exact 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 manage to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any clogs 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, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal indoors. Not only could 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, verify that the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Plover. A damaged or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much quicker than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's important to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, as well as the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or your water heater. And finally, very large homes should think about installing extra CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above suggestions, you'd want to 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 placed around the kitchen.
  • Both the third and fourth alarms should be installed near or in bedrooms.

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak after it’s been found. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Plover to licensed professionals like Point Heating & Cooling. They know how to install your desired make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.