Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuel like oil and natural gas to generate 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 all kinds of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely away from your house. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can get into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Marshalltown can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to know the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll offer up more information about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family breathing easy.

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 disperses over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach elevated concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels may increase without somebody noticing. This is why it's crucial to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of recognizing faint traces of CO and warning everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is burned. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular due to its availability and affordable price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that require these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide your furnace emits is normally released safely away from your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation due to the fact that they possess proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can attach 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 carry oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Lack of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous levels of CO over a long period of time, you may experience the following symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous symptoms) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have several family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it might be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you have CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and call 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are managed. Then, call a professional technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will find where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and fix the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a bit of time to find the correct spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can manage to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or somewhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run night and day, needlessly consuming energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it create a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using 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 permit carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Marshalltown. A damaged or faulty furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much quicker than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping enough time to get out. It's also a great idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, very large homes should consider extra CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the aforementioned guidelines, you'll want to put in three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than fixing the leak after it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Marshalltown to licensed professionals like Kapaun & Brown Inc.. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.