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 produced. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can trigger all kinds of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But if a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are cracked, CO might leak into your house.

While high quality furnace repair in West Valley City can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to recognize the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share more information 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 burns, carbon monoxide is released. It generally breaks up over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's viewed as a dangerous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without anyone noticing. That's why it's important to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for recognizing the presence of CO and warning your family with the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any kind of fuel is burned. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular because of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we stated before, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is usually vented safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide problems due to the fact that 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 Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's ability to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Lack of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're exposed 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 higher levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less severe symptoms) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have different family members struggling with symptoms at the same time, it could be evidence that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and contact 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are managed. Then, call a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is escaping.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and seal the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a while to locate the right spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can manage to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there are no clogs 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 produce carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run around the clock, squandering energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal indoors. Not only will it create a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in West Valley City. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much sooner than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's crucial to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping adequate time to get out. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should look at additional CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you'll want to put in three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than resolving the leak when it’s been found. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in West Valley City to certified specialists like Select Comfort Systems Heating & Air Conditioning. They understand how to install your ideal make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.