Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can lead to a lot of health and breathing issues. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are broken, CO might leak into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Brandon can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to know the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more information about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan 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 flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It usually dissipates over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can increase without anyone noticing. This is why it's vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for discerning evidence of CO and warning your family with the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is burned. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace as a result of its wide availability and low price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that require these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide the furnace emits is normally removed safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they possess adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can bind 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 throughout 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 affects every part of the body. If you're exposed to hazardous amounts 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 side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less dangerous symptoms) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have several family members struggling with symptoms concurrently, it could be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and call 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are controlled. Then, get in touch with a professional technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will find where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and seal off the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a bit of time to find the right spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what 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 could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that create 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 night and day, needlessly consuming energy and adding 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. Try not to use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Brandon. A broken or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms detect CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping enough time to evacuate safely. It's also a good idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, especially large homes should look at even more CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you'd want to have three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

  • One alarm can be mounted near the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm can be put in near the kitchen.
  • And the third and fourth alarms should be installed near or inside bedrooms.

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than fixing the leak when it’s been found. A great way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Brandon to qualified professionals like Brandon Heating and Plumbing. They recognize how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.