Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels such as oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause all kinds of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are built with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But if a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are broken, CO could get into your house.

While quality furnace repair in Manassas can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to learn the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more information about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family breathing easy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally breaks up over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's considered a dangerous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels may climb without anyone noticing. This is why it's important to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is capable of recognizing evidence of CO and warning everyone in the house via the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is combusted. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular due to its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that use these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide your furnace creates is ordinarily removed safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems because they possess sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Can 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 prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's ability to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of 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 subjected to 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 symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms simultaneously, it can be evidence that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house right away and contact 911. Medical providers can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should determine where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and seal the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a while to uncover the exact spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can manage to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or anywhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only could it leave 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 confined spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Take care of routine furnace maintenance in Manassas. A broken down or faulty furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much faster than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's crucial to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping plenty of time to exit the home. It's also a good idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or your water heater. And finally, especially large homes should think about installing additional CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you'll want to install three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak when it’s been found. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Manassas to qualified experts like Air-Right Energy Design, Inc.. They understand how to install your ideal make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.