Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to provide 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 lead to all kinds of health and breathing issues. Luckily, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But in the event a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are cracked, CO could leak into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Cambridge can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to recognize the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by 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 comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is created. It generally scatters over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach higher concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without somebody noticing. This is why it's essential to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is ideal for recognizing faint traces of CO and warning everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any form of fuel is ignited. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace due to its prevalence and affordable 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 can emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we outlined earlier, the carbon monoxide your furnace produces is normally removed safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they possess proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained 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 adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's ability to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Insufficient oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're subjected 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 symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. 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 dangerous symptoms) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have several family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it could be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house immediately and call 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, call a certified technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is leaking.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and seal the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take some time to find the correct spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can manage to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or someplace else that can 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 maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run night and day, needlessly consuming energy and adding 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 own a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Cambridge. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much quicker than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's crucial to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping enough time to get out. It's also a smart idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, especially large homes should think about installing even more CO detectors for uniform distribution throughout the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above guidelines, you should put in three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing 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 Cambridge to licensed professionals like Pliescott HVAC Services LLC . They know how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.