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 byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can trigger all sorts of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are loose, CO could get into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Lafayette can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to learn the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near 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 made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is released. It generally disperses over time since CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach more potent 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 vital to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for identifying faint traces of CO and warning your family using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any kind of fuel is burned. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace due to its availability and low price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we outlined earlier, the carbon monoxide the furnace produces is normally vented safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems 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 Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's ability to move oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. A shortage of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're exposed to hazardous amounts 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 higher levels, the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less serious ones) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms simultaneously, it might be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and contact 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will uncover where the gas is coming from.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

When 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 find the correct spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no clogs in the flue pipe or anywhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run constantly, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only does it leave a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Lafayette. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much earlier than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, not to mention the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping sufficient time to exit the home. It's also a great idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, particularly large homes should look at additional CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the aforementioned guidelines, you should put in three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak when it’s been found. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Lafayette to certified experts like AC Sales. They recognize how to install your desired make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.