Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuel like oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can trigger a lot of health and breathing complications. Thankfully, furnaces are built with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely away from your house. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are broken, CO can get into the house.

While high quality furnace repair in Tomball can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll offer up more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally dissipates over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach higher concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without anybody noticing. That's why it's important to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's ideal for identifying the presence of CO and warning you using the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any form of fuel is burned. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace because of its prevalence and affordable price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from 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

Like we outlined above, the carbon monoxide a furnace creates is ordinarily removed safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they offer adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's ability to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate 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 exposed to hazardous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a number of symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous ones) are frequently mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it might be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, exit the house right away and call 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, call a certified technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will identify where the gas is coming from.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and fix the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a bit of time to find the exact spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can manage to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or someplace else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that create carbon monoxide, such as 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 adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only could it make 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 compact spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Tomball. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much sooner than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, as well as the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping adequate time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. Finally, particularly large homes should look at even more CO detectors for equal coverage of the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the previously mentioned guidelines, you'll want to set up three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak once it’s been discovered. An easy way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Tomball to licensed experts like Premium Air Services LLC. They know how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.