Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels such as oil and natural gas to provide 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 lead to all kinds of health and breathing issues. Luckily, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely out of your house. But if a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are broken, CO can leak out into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Mankato area can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll review more info about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan to keep you and your family healthy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something like wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally dissipates over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels may rise without someone noticing. That's why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for discerning evidence of CO and alerting your family using the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any form of fuel is combusted. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular because of its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that require these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

Like we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide your furnace emits is normally vented safely outside of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will 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, interrupting your body's capability to move oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of 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 harmful concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you can experience the following symptoms:

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

At even higher levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less serious signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members struggling with symptoms concurrently, it could be indicative that there's a CO gas leak 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, get in touch with a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will identify where the gas is escaping.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and fix the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a bit of time to uncover the right spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or someplace else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running night and day, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal indoors. Not only will it create 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 enclosed spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Mankato area. A broken down or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms detect CO gas much sooner than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's important to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping adequate time to exit the home. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. Finally, very large homes should think about installing even more CO detectors for equal protection for the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you should put in three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak once it’s been found. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Mankato area to qualified specialists like Northern Comfort Inc. They recognize how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.