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 created. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause all kinds of health and breathing problems. Thankfully, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But in the event a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are loose, CO can leak into your house.

While quality furnace repair in McHenry can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to be familiar with the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll review more information about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is created. It normally disperses over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach elevated 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 could climb without someone noticing. That's why it's essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's ideal for identifying faint traces of CO and warning everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is burnt. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace due to its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we stated before, the carbon monoxide a furnace produces is ordinarily removed safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems due to the fact that they have proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's ability to transport oxygen throughout 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 affects every part of the body. If you're in contact with harmful concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you might experience the following 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 heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less serious symptoms) are often mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members suffering from symptoms at the same time, it can be evidence that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and contact 911. Medical experts can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, call a professional technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should uncover where the gas is leaking.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and fix the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take some time to locate the exact spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to reduce 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 somewhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running night and day, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it leave a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined 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. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in McHenry. A broken down or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms recognize CO gas much earlier than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's important to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, very large homes should consider even more CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the previously mentioned recommendations, you'll 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 placed near the kitchen.
  • While the third and fourth alarms can be installed near or in bedrooms.

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always better than repairing the leak after it’s been found. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in McHenry to licensed specialists like Jett's Heating & Air Inc.. They understand how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.