Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can trigger all kinds of health and breathing problems. Fortunately, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But in the event a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are cracked, CO could leak out into your house.

While high quality furnace repair in Moline can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to recognize the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll offer up more information about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan to keep you and your family healthy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is released. It generally disperses over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels may climb without someone noticing. That's why it's important to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for recognizing faint traces of CO and alerting you via the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any form of fuel is combusted. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular as a result of its availability and low price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, most 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 mentioned above, the carbon monoxide the furnace creates is ordinarily vented safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they offer adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capability to transport oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. A shortage of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to harmful concentrations 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 potential health problems of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious symptoms) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms simultaneously, it might be evidence that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you have CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and call 911. Medical providers can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, get in touch with a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will identify where the gas is coming from.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and seal the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a while to find the right spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or somewhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase 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 create a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Moline. A damaged or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much sooner than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, as well as the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a good idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, particularly large homes should consider extra CO detectors for uniform distribution throughout the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you should install three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than resolving the leak once it’s been found. A great way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Moline to licensed professionals like J.L. Brady Company LLC. They recognize how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.