Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels such as oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can result in all sorts of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are built with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But when a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can get into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Ballwin and St. Charles can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll offer up more information about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family breathing easy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is released. It normally disperses over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a dangerous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without someone noticing. That's why it's essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for recognizing the presence of CO and alerting everyone in the house via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any form of fuel is burnt. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular as a result of its prevalence and affordable price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that require 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 your furnace creates is normally vented safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they possess sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's ability to move oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. A shortage of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're subjected to hazardous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you may 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 becoming fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous ones) are often mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it may be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you are struggling with CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and call 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are managed. Then, call a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can determine where the gas is coming from.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has identified 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 might take some time to uncover the exact spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there are no blockages in the flue pipe or someplace else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that produce 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 around the clock, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. 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 own a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Ballwin and St. Charles. A broken down or malfunctioning furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much faster than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, as well as the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping adequate time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or your water heater. Finally, particularly large homes should think about installing extra CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

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

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than resolving the leak once it’s been found. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Ballwin and St. Charles to certified professionals like Air Alliance Team. They know how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.