Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuel like oil and natural gas to provide 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. Fortunately, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But if a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are broken, CO can leak into your house.

While professional furnace repair in the Rio Grande Valley can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll review more information 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 made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally scatters over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a dangerous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels may climb without someone noticing. This is the reason why it's crucial to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is ideal for recognizing evidence of CO and alerting you with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind of fuel is ignited. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly common due to its availability and low price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that require these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide your furnace generates is ordinarily vented safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they possess proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capacity to transport 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 impacts every part of the body. If you're exposed to harmful concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you could experience the following symptoms:

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

At even steeper 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 serious ones) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have different family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it may be indicative that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and contact 911. Medical professionals can ensure your symptoms are treated. 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

When a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and fix the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a bit of time to uncover the correct spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or someplace else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, needlessly consuming energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. 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 confined spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure 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 the Rio Grande Valley. A damaged or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much quicker than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's vital to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping sufficient time to get out. It's also a good idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or your water heater. Finally, very large homes should look at even more CO detectors for equal coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the above suggestions, you'll want to put in three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm should be mounted near the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm could be installed around the kitchen.
  • While the third and fourth alarms could 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 repairing the leak after it’s been found. A great way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in the Rio Grande Valley to certified experts like Cytech Heating & Cooling L.C.. They know how to install your ideal make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.