Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can cause all kinds of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely away from your house. But in the event a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are broken, CO can leak out into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Odessa can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to be familiar with the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near 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 composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is released. 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 will sometimes reach elevated concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels may rise without someone noticing. This is why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is capable of discerning evidence of CO and notifying your family with the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is ignited. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially common as a result of its availability and low price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we outlined earlier, the carbon monoxide your furnace emits is usually released safely away from your home via the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined 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 adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's ability to move oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of 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 hazardous levels of CO over a long period of time, you can experience the following symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the potential health problems of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less serious symptoms) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it can be a sign that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you suspect you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and contact 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are controlled. Then, call a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should find where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a bit of time to uncover the correct spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics 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 properly vented and that there are no clogs in the flue pipe or anywhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run night and day, wasting energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal indoors. Not only does it create a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Odessa. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much earlier than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's crucial to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping plenty of time to exit the home. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or the water heater. Lastly, especially large homes should think about installing even more CO detectors for uniform protection for the entire house.

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

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than resolving the leak after it’s been found. One of the best ways to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Odessa to trained experts like Redhawk Heating & Air Conditioning. They understand how to install your preferred make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.