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 complication of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can result in all kinds of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are broken, CO can leak out into the house.

While quality furnace repair in Lake Forest can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby 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 burns, carbon monoxide is released. It generally dissipates over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels may rise without somebody noticing. This is the reason why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is ideal for identifying evidence of CO and alerting everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is burned. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular because of its wide availability and low price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that require these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we mentioned before, the carbon monoxide a furnace creates is usually released safely away from your home through the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they possess proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, 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 ability to move oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous quantities 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 potential health problems of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less dangerous ones) are often 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 may be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you are suffering from CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and call 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are controlled. Then, call a professional technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is leaking.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and seal off the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a while to locate the correct spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that emit 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 have to run constantly, needlessly consuming energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only does it make a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Lake Forest. A damaged or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms recognize CO gas much faster than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping enough time to get out. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, particularly 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 aforementioned suggestions, you should put in three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

  • One alarm should be placed near the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm could be installed 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 fixing the leak once it’s been located. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Lake Forest to licensed specialists like 1st Choice Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.. They understand how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.