Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels including oil and natural gas to generate heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can lead to a lot of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are broken, CO could leak out into the house.

While high quality furnace repair in Norco and St. Charles Parish can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll offer up more info about carbon monoxide so you can take steps 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 a fuel like wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally breaks up over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach elevated concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without somebody noticing. This is why it's essential to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is capable of recognizing the presence of CO and alerting your family with the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is combusted. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly common due to its wide availability and affordable price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that require these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we outlined before, the carbon monoxide your furnace creates is usually vented safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation because they possess adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does 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 stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capacity to move oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's enough 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 could experience a number of 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 becoming fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious symptoms) are often mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it may be a sign that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house immediately and contact 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are managed. Then, get in touch with a professional technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should identify where the gas is leaking.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and fix the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take some time to uncover the correct spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence 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 properly vented and that there are no blockages in the flue pipe or someplace else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run night and day, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside. Not only does it make a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Try not to use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
  6. If you use a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Norco and St. Charles Parish. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms notice CO gas much earlier than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's crucial to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping adequate time to exit the home. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, especially large homes should look at extra CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the aforementioned recommendations, you should put in three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

  • One alarm could be installed close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm should be set up around 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 more beneficial than fixing the leak after it’s been discovered. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Norco and St. Charles Parish to certified experts like Mayeuxs AC & Heating. They understand how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimal efficiency and minimal risk.