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 common and hazardous gas that can lead to all kinds of health and breathing complications. Thankfully, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely away from your house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are damaged, CO could leak out into your home.

While high quality furnace repair in Carson City can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to recognize the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll share more facts 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 flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is released. It normally breaks up over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without somebody noticing. That's why it's important to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of recognizing the presence of CO and notifying everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is combusted. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly common because of its wide availability and low price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Apart 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 stated earlier, the carbon monoxide your furnace emits is usually removed safely away from your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide problems because they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting 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 use it. Lack of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're exposed to hazardous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you can experience the following 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 large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less dangerous symptoms) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it may be evidence that there's CO gas in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and contact 911. Medical providers can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, get in touch with a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should identify where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take some time to locate the exact spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or somewhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that emit carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal indoors. Not only will it create 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 use a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Carson City. A broken down or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms detect CO gas much faster than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's crucial to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. And finally, especially large homes should look at additional CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned guidelines, you'll want to set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

  • One alarm should be mounted close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm should be installed near the kitchen.
  • While the third and fourth alarms can be installed near or within bedrooms.

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak when it’s been located. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Carson City to trained professionals like Anderson Heating & A/C. They understand how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.