Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can cause all sorts of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But in the event a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are loose, CO could leak out into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Tuscaloosa can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to be familiar with the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more info about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family healthy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is released. It usually breaks up over time since CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach elevated concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can rise without someone noticing. This is the reason why it's important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for identifying evidence of CO and alerting everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is burnt. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular because 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 may emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

Like we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace produces is ordinarily released safely away from your home with the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity to transport 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 subjected to dangerous concentrations 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 more potent levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less dangerous symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it might be evidence that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and contact 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, call a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is coming from.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has discovered 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 can take some time to find the right spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is adequately 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 increase ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running constantly, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside. Not only does 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 enclosed spaces.
  6. If you own 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 Tuscaloosa. A broken down or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms notice CO gas much earlier than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, as well as the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, especially large homes should look at additional CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the above recommendations, you'll want to install three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak once it’s been located. A great way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Tuscaloosa to licensed experts like KDM Service Corporation. They recognize how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.