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 side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can result in a lot of health and breathing complications. Thankfully, furnaces are built with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely away from your home. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are loose, CO could leak into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Pella can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to learn the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll review more info 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 ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It usually disperses over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach more potent concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's viewed as a dangerous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels can increase without anybody noticing. That's why it's crucial to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is ideal for identifying evidence of CO and alerting everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is burned. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace as a result of its availability and inexpensive price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that use these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide the furnace produces is usually removed safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can adhere 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 move oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Lack of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're subjected to hazardous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you may experience a number of symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath

At even higher levels, the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. 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 dangerous ones) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have several family members experiencing symptoms simultaneously, it could be indicative that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and call 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a professional technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should determine where the gas is coming from.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a while to uncover the right spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or somewhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, like 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. Never burn charcoal indoors. Not only will it make a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined 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. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Pella. A broken or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much earlier than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's crucial to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping plenty of time to exit the home. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or your water heater. And finally, particularly large homes should consider extra CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you'd want to put in three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

  • One alarm could be placed around the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm could be set up close to the kitchen.
  • Both the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or inside bedrooms.

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing the leak once it’s been located. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Pella to trained specialists like Van Haaften Plumbing & Heating. They know how to install your ideal make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.