Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuel like oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can lead to a lot of health and breathing issues. Fortunately, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But in the event a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are cracked, CO can leak out into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Newton can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to learn the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll share more facts about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan 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 fuel like wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is created. It usually disperses over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach more potent concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels may climb without somebody noticing. That's why it's crucial to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for identifying evidence of CO and alerting everyone in the house via the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is ignited. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular due to its prevalence and low price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that require these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

Like we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide your furnace generates is ordinarily vented safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since 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 Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capability to carry 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 harms every part of the body. If you're subjected to harmful amounts of CO over a long period of time, you can 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 include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less serious ones) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have several family members experiencing symptoms simultaneously, it could be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you believe you have CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and contact 911. Medical professionals can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, call a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and seal off the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a while to find the right spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can manage to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running constantly, needlessly consuming energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it make a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Try not to use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Newton. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms recognize CO gas much quicker than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, as well as the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. Lastly, especially large homes should think about installing extra CO detectors for uniform distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above suggestions, you'll want to put in three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm can be mounted close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm should be set up around the kitchen.
  • While the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or within bedrooms.

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than repairing the leak after it’s been found. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Newton to trained experts like Brookwood Inc. They understand how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.