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 result of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can result in all sorts of health and breathing problems. Fortunately, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO could leak out into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Houston can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to recognize the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll review more information about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is released. It generally scatters over time since CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's considered a hazardous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without anybody noticing. This is the reason why it's essential to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is ideal for identifying faint traces of CO and alerting you via the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any type of fuel is burnt. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular as a result of its availability and inexpensive price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that use these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we outlined earlier, the carbon monoxide the furnace produces is normally vented safely out of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation because they offer proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capability to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're subjected to dangerous concentrations 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 becoming fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less serious ones) are frequently mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it can be indicative that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and call 911. Medical professionals can ensure 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 Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

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

  1. Verify that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that can 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 be running night and day, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only does it leave 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 own a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Houston. A broken or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much faster than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's vital to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, as well as the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping plenty of time to get out. It's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, very large homes should consider even more CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the aforementioned guidelines, you'll want to set up three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always better than repairing the leak when it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Houston to trained experts like Marcos AC & Heating. They recognize how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.