Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels such as oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can cause all sorts of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of your house. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are cracked, CO might leak into your home.

While professional furnace repair in Moline can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to be familiar with the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more info about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan 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 a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is released. It normally dissipates over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach higher concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without anyone noticing. This is the reason why it's important to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is ideal for discerning the presence of CO and warning everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is burned. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular as a result of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we outlined earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace creates is usually removed safely out of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they offer proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's ability to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Insufficient oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're subjected to harmful concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you can experience the following symptoms:

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

At even steeper levels, the potential health problems of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less serious ones) are often mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms simultaneously, it might be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you are struggling with CO poisoning, leave the house right away and contact 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are treated. Then, contact a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is escaping.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and seal the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take some time to find the right 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 do to minimize 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 anywhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use 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 have to run around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal indoors. Not only will 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 use a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Moline. A damaged or faulty furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, 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 every level of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping plenty of time to get out. It's also a great idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, particularly large homes should think about installing even more CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the aforementioned guidelines, you'll want to have three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than fixing the leak once it’s been discovered. One of the best ways to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Moline to licensed experts like Freed Heating & Air Conditioning. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.