Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels including oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can lead to all kinds of health and breathing problems. Thankfully, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But in the event a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are cracked, CO might get into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Bartlesville can correct 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 near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share more facts 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 comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is released. It generally dissipates over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach higher concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels may increase without someone noticing. This is the reason why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's ideal for identifying evidence of CO and alerting everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind 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 low price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that require these fuels will 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 ordinarily removed safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they possess sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's ability to move oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. A shortage of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous levels of CO over a long period of time, you may experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even higher levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous signs) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it may be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you suspect you have CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and contact 911. Medical professionals can ensure your symptoms are managed. Then, call a professional technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should identify where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

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

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there are no clogs in the flue pipe or someplace 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. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run night and day, needlessly consuming energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only could it create 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 have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Bartlesville. A broken down or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much quicker than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, as well as the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, particularly large homes should think about installing even more CO detectors for equal protection for the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you'd want to set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than fixing the leak once it’s been found. An easy way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Bartlesville to trained experts like Farris Heating & Air. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.