Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuel like oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can result in all kinds of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are loose, CO might get into your house.

While quality furnace repair in Milledgeville and Middle Georgia can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to recognize 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 share more information about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan to keep you and your family breathing easy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is released. It normally breaks up over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach elevated concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels can rise without anyone noticing. This is the reason why it's crucial to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for identifying evidence of CO and notifying you using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any kind of fuel is burnt. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace due to its prevalence and low price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is normally removed safely away from your home through the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's ability to move oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. A shortage of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're in contact with hazardous quantities of CO over a long period of time, you can experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even steeper levels, the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less severe ones) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have different family members suffering from symptoms at the same time, it can be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and call 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, call a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is coming from.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

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

  1. Make sure your furnace is correctly vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or somewhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, like 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 constantly, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal indoors. Not only will it leave a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't 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 enable carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Milledgeville and Middle Georgia. A broken or faulty furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much faster than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's vital to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a good idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, very large homes should look at extra CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above recommendations, you'd want to put in three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak when it’s been found. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Milledgeville and Middle Georgia to licensed experts like Air Concepts of Middle Georgia. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.