Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuels including oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can lead to all sorts of health and breathing issues. Luckily, furnaces are built with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But in the event a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are broken, CO might leak out into your home.

While high quality furnace repair in Franklin Lakes can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to be familiar with the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors in 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 comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, 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 sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach higher concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a hazardous gas is because it lacks color, odor or taste. Levels can rise without anybody noticing. This is why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for recognizing evidence of CO and notifying everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is burned. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular as a result of its availability and low price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that require these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we outlined before, the carbon monoxide a furnace produces is normally removed safely out of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

When carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, 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 move oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Lack of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're subjected to dangerous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you could experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the side effects 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 loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious ones) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members struggling with symptoms at the same time, it might be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, leave the house straight away and call 911. Medical professionals can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, call a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should find where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and seal the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it can take a bit of time to find the exact spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can manage to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or somewhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running around the clock, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside your home. Not only will it create a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't 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 enable carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Franklin Lakes. A broken or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much faster than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's crucial to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, as well as the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping adequate time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. Finally, particularly large homes should consider even more CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the aforementioned recommendations, you'd want to set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always better than repairing the leak when it’s been found. One of the best ways to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Franklin Lakes to trained experts like Total Comfort. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.