Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels such as oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can trigger a lot of health and breathing issues. Fortunately, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are loose, CO might leak out into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Carpentersville can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll share more info about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family healthy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is released. It generally scatters over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without someone noticing. That's why it's vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is ideal for discerning faint traces of CO and alerting your family via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is ignited. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace as a result of its prevalence and affordable price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we outlined before, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is normally vented safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they have proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity to carry oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Insufficient oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're subjected to harmful quantities 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 steeper levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less serious signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple 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, exit the house straight away and contact 911. Medical providers can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, get in touch with a certified technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should determine where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a bit of time to locate the right spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is adequately 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, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it make 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 confined spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, ensure 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 Carpentersville. A damaged or faulty furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping plenty of time to exit the home. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or a water heater. Finally, especially large homes should think about installing even more CO detectors for equal protection for the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the previously mentioned recommendations, you should put in three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm can be placed close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm could be put in close to the kitchen.
  • And 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 more effective than repairing the leak after it’s been located. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Carpentersville to licensed specialists like Controlled Comfort HVAC Inc. They recognize how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.