Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can lead to all sorts of health and breathing issues. Fortunately, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might leak out into your house.

While quality furnace repair in Columbus can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll offer up more information 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 composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is produced. It usually dissipates over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's regarded as a dangerous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can increase without someone noticing. This is the reason why it's important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is ideal for identifying faint traces of CO and alerting your family via the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any type of fuel is combusted. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular because of its availability and affordable price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that use these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

Like we mentioned before, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is usually released safely away from your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation because they possess proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capacity to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's enough 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 amounts 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 steeper levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less serious symptoms) are easily mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members suffering from symptoms at the same time, it could be evidence that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and contact 911. Medical experts can make sure your symptoms are managed. Then, call a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and seal off the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a while to locate the exact 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 work on to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or someplace else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, needlessly consuming energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only could it create a mess, but it will also emit 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, make sure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Columbus. A broken down or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, including the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping adequate time to get out. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. Lastly, very large homes should look at even more CO detectors for uniform 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 can be set up close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm should be installed around the kitchen.
  • And the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or in bedrooms.

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than repairing the leak once it’s been located. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Columbus to qualified experts like Wolfe & Sons Heating and Cooling. They understand how to install your chosen make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.