Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels such as oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can lead to all sorts of health and breathing issues. Luckily, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But when a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are broken, CO could get into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Bloomfield can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to learn the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by 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 comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is created. It usually dissipates over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without anyone noticing. This is the reason why it's essential to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for identifying evidence of CO and notifying your family using the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is burned. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular as a result of its prevalence and low price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we stated before, the carbon monoxide your furnace produces is ordinarily vented safely away from your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can attach 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 adequate 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 dangerous concentrations 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 more potent levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous signs) are often mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it could be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you believe you have CO poisoning, leave the house right away and contact 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are treated. Then, contact a certified technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should determine where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal off the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a bit of time to uncover the exact spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or someplace else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running constantly, needlessly consuming energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside. Not only could it make a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Bloomfield. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms recognize CO gas much sooner than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, as well as the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping sufficient time to get out. It's also a good idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. Finally, particularly large homes should consider extra CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned guidelines, you'll want to put in three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm should be installed close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm could be put in around the kitchen.
  • Both the third and fourth alarms should be installed near or within bedrooms.

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing 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 passing on furnace installation in Bloomfield to trained experts like Stanford Heating & Cooling. They understand how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.