Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can lead to all sorts of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But in the event a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are damaged, CO could leak out into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Libertyville can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to learn the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in 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 safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally breaks up over time since CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach higher concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could climb without somebody noticing. This is the reason why it's important to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's ideal for recognizing evidence of CO and notifying everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any form of fuel is combusted. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular as a result of its availability and affordable price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that use these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

Like we stated above, the carbon monoxide your furnace produces is normally released safely away from your home with the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they possess sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's ability to transport oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate 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 dangerous quantities 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 serious. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (particularly 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 suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it can be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, leave the house immediately and call 911. Medical professionals can see to it that your symptoms are managed. Then, get in touch with a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will determine where the gas is escaping.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has confirmed there's 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 a bit of time to uncover the right 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 manage to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or someplace else that could 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 increase ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run night and day, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only will it create a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Libertyville. A damaged or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much earlier than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's vital to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, as well as the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping adequate time to exit the home. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. And finally, particularly large homes should consider extra CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned recommendations, you'll want to set up three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing the leak after it’s been found. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Libertyville to qualified professionals like TopTec Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.