Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels including oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can lead to all kinds of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely away from your home. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can leak out into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Sandpoint can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll offer up more facts 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 composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is created. It usually dissipates over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach more potent concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels may climb without anyone noticing. That's why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is capable of recognizing evidence of CO and notifying you with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is burned. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace as a result of its wide availability and low price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we mentioned before, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is ordinarily removed safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they possess adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's ability to carry oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's enough 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 in contact with dangerous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a number of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (particularly the less severe signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members struggling with symptoms simultaneously, it could be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and contact 911. Medical professionals can ensure your symptoms are treated. Then, call a certified technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can identify where the gas is escaping.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has found 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 may take a while to uncover the exact spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or someplace else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, needlessly consuming energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only could 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 enclosed 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 Sandpoint. A broken down or faulty furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms recognize CO gas much earlier than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping adequate time to get out. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or a water heater. Lastly, very large homes should consider additional CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the previously mentioned guidelines, you'll want to have three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing the leak once it’s been found. A great way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Sandpoint to licensed specialists like Age Heating & Cooling. They recognize how to install your ideal make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.