Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuel like oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can lead to all sorts of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But when a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might leak out into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Rockford can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to be familiar with 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 review more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is created. It usually scatters over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels may rise without anybody noticing. This is the reason why it's vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's ideal for discerning evidence of CO and warning everyone in the house via the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind of fuel is combusted. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace due to its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that use these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we mentioned before, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is usually removed safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they possess adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capability to carry oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're subjected to dangerous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you may experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous ones) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms simultaneously, it could be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and call 911. Medical providers can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, contact a professional technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will find where the gas is coming from.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take some time to uncover the right spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is correctly vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or anywhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running around the clock, wasting energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal indoors. Not only will 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 enclosed spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Rockford. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms notice CO gas much earlier than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level 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 plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should look at additional CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

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

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak after it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Rockford to qualified specialists like Temperature Doctors Heating & Cooling, Inc. They know how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.