Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to generate 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 cause all kinds of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are loose, CO could get into your home.

While professional furnace repair in Grand Prairie can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors in 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 safe.

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 ignites, carbon monoxide is created. It usually dissipates over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without anybody noticing. That's why it's essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of recognizing evidence of CO and alerting you with the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is combusted. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular due to its availability and inexpensive price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that use these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we stated before, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is usually released safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they possess adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will 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, disrupting your body's capability to carry oxygen throughout 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 impacts every part of the body. If you're subjected to hazardous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a variety of 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 being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less severe symptoms) are easily mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members struggling with symptoms concurrently, it could be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, exit the house right away and call 911. Medical experts can make sure your symptoms are controlled. Then, call a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can determine where the gas is escaping.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal off the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a bit of time to locate 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 do to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no blockages in the flue pipe or somewhere else that can 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 maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running constantly, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only could it make a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Grand Prairie. A damaged or faulty furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's important to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, as well as the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping enough time to exit the home. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, particularly large homes should look at additional CO detectors for equal coverage of the entire house.

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

  • One alarm could be mounted near the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm should be installed around the kitchen.
  • Both the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or within bedrooms.

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than fixing the leak once it’s been discovered. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Grand Prairie to certified experts like Bon Air Service Company. They recognize how to install your desired make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.