Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels including oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can lead to all kinds of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are built with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But in the event a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are loose, CO might get into the house.

While quality furnace repair in Bend can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to recognize 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 review more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take steps 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 produced. It usually disperses over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach elevated concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without anybody noticing. This is why it's vital to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for identifying faint traces of CO and warning you with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any form of fuel is burned. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular because of its availability and low price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

Like we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide the furnace emits is normally vented safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they have sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capacity to move oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Lack of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're in contact with hazardous levels 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 severe. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less severe symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members struggling with symptoms simultaneously, it could be a sign that there's CO gas in your home. If you suspect you have CO poisoning, get out of the house immediately and call 911. Medical providers can make sure your symptoms are managed. Then, call a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

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

  1. Verify that your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no blockages in the flue pipe or somewhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that emit carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside. Not only does it leave a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Try not to use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Bend. A broken down or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much quicker than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping enough time to get out. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, particularly large homes should think about installing additional CO detectors for uniform distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the aforementioned recommendations, you should set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

  • One alarm could be installed around the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm could be put in around the kitchen.
  • While the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or inside bedrooms.

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than fixing the leak when it’s been located. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Bend to trained professionals like Tri County Climate Control LLC. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.