Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels such as oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can trigger all sorts of health and breathing issues. Fortunately, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO can get into your home.

While professional furnace repair in Delray Beach can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll offer up more info about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family healthy.

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 generally disperses over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels may rise without someone noticing. That's why it's essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is capable of discerning faint traces of CO and notifying your family with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is burnt. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly common because of its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that require these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we stated above, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is normally vented safely away from your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation because they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capacity to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Insufficient oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're exposed to hazardous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you may experience a number of symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious signs) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it can be evidence that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you are suffering from CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and contact 911. Medical experts can make sure your symptoms are managed. Then, contact a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is coming from.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify 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 evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using 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, needlessly consuming energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only could it leave a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Delray Beach. A broken down or faulty furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much faster than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping adequate time to exit the home. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should think about installing additional CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, including the basement. With the aforementioned recommendations, you'd want to put in three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than repairing the leak once it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Delray Beach to certified experts like Kilbourne Heating & AC. They recognize how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.