Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels such as oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can result in all kinds of health and breathing problems. Thankfully, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely out of your house. But if a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are broken, CO can leak out into the house.

While high quality furnace repair in Pacheco can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to learn the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll offer up 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 comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally disperses over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach higher concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels may climb without somebody noticing. That's why it's crucial to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of identifying the presence of CO and alerting everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any kind of fuel is combusted. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace because of its availability and affordable price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that require these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we outlined before, the carbon monoxide the furnace creates is normally removed safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide problems due to the fact that they offer adequate 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?

After carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capability to transport oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Insufficient oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous quantities of CO over a long period of time, you could 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 heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous ones) are frequently mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms concurrently, it can be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of 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 inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will identify where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and seal off the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a bit of time to find the correct 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 manage to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is adequately 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 you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including 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, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only could it create a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Pacheco. A broken or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much sooner than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's vital to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping adequate time to exit the home. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, very large homes should look at extra CO detectors for equal protection for the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above recommendations, you should set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak once it’s been located. An easy way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Pacheco to trained experts like Clean Air HVAC. They understand how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.