Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels including oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing problems. Thankfully, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But if a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are loose, CO might leak out into your home.

While professional furnace repair in Saint Petersburg can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll offer up more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate 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 like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is created. It generally dissipates over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach elevated concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could climb without anyone noticing. That's why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of discerning faint traces of CO and notifying your family via the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is burned. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace because of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that use these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide the furnace emits is normally removed safely away from your home with the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they have proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, 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 transport oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient 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 hazardous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you might experience the following symptoms:

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

At even higher levels, the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less serious signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it can be a sign that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and call 911. Medical providers can make sure your symptoms are controlled. Then, get in touch with a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and seal the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take some time to locate the exact 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 work on to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is properly vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or someplace else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that create carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, wasting energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. 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 compact spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Saint Petersburg. A broken down or malfunctioning furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much earlier than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's crucial to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping enough time to get out. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. Finally, particularly large homes should think about installing extra CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the previously mentioned recommendations, you'll want to have three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak once it’s been located. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Saint Petersburg to certified professionals like Hale's Air Conditioning Services Inc. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.