Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuel like oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause all kinds of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are built with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are broken, CO might get into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Siloam Springs can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to be familiar with 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 facts about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is released. It usually breaks up over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach more potent concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a dangerous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels can increase without anyone noticing. This is the reason why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for discerning the presence of CO and notifying everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is burnt. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly common as a result of its prevalence and low price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that require these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is ordinarily vented safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don'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 Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's ability to move oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. A shortage of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're in contact with dangerous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you can experience a number of symptoms:

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

At even higher levels, the potential health problems of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less severe symptoms) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it might be evidence that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and call 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a certified technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can determine 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 fix the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a while to locate the correct spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can manage to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or someplace else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that emit carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using 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. Try not to use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Siloam Springs. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much faster than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping adequate time to exit the home. It's also a smart idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, very 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 above guidelines, you should install three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

  • One alarm could be installed near the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm can be installed near the kitchen.
  • While the third and fourth alarms should be installed near or within bedrooms.

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than repairing the leak after it’s been located. A great way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Siloam Springs to licensed experts like Siloam Springs Heating & AC. They understand how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.