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 byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing problems. Luckily, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are broken, CO could get into the house.

While quality furnace repair in Tucson can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share more facts 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 ignites, carbon monoxide is released. It normally dissipates 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. In fact, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without somebody noticing. That's why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is capable of identifying the presence of CO and alerting your family with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is combusted. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace because of its availability and affordable price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that require these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide your furnace emits is usually released safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they offer proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once 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, getting in the way of your body's ability to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Insufficient oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're in contact with dangerous quantities of CO over a long period of time, you may experience the following symptoms:

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

At even steeper levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous signs) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it might be a sign that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and contact 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are managed. Then, call a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should identify where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and seal the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a while to find the exact spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside your home. Not only does it create a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Tucson. A broken down or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much quicker than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's important to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping plenty of time to get out. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, particularly large homes should consider extra CO detectors for equal coverage of the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the above recommendations, you'll want to put in three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm should be placed around the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm can be set up close to the kitchen.
  • While the third and fourth alarms can be installed near or inside bedrooms.

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak after it’s been found. A great way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Tucson to trained experts like A&M Heating & Cooling LLC. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.