Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuel like oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can cause all sorts of health and breathing issues. Fortunately, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely out of your house. But when a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are loose, CO could get into the house.

While quality furnace repair in York can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to recognize the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll review more information 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 composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is created. It usually disperses over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a dangerous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without anybody noticing. This is why it's crucial to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is capable of identifying the presence of CO and alerting your family via the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is combusted. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular due to its availability and affordable 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 may emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

Like we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is usually vented safely away from your home with the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation because they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity 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. A shortage of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous levels of CO over a long period of time, you could experience a variety 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 can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous ones) are often mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it might be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you have CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and contact 911. Medical providers can ensure your symptoms are treated. Then, contact a certified technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will identify where the gas is leaking.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

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

  1. Make sure your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or someplace else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that emit 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 constantly, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only will it make a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in York. A broken or faulty furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much sooner than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, as well as the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping plenty of time to get out. It's also a great idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should consider even more CO detectors for equal coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the aforementioned guidelines, you'd want to set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

  • One alarm can be placed near the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm can be placed around the kitchen.
  • And 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 discovered. One of the best ways to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in York to qualified professionals like Strine's Heating & Air Conditioning. They know how to install your chosen make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.