Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels including oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a byproduct of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause all sorts of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are cracked, CO can leak into the house.

While high quality furnace repair in Lincoln can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll review more information about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate 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 something such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally disperses over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes 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 climb without anyone noticing. That's why it's important to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of discerning the presence of CO and notifying your family using the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any type of fuel is burned. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially common due to its prevalence and low price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is normally released safely outside of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems because they offer proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will 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, getting in the way of your body's capability to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use 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 could experience the following symptoms:

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

At even higher levels, the side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less severe signs) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms at the same time, it can be evidence that there's CO gas in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, leave the house straight away and call 911. Medical experts can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, contact a trained technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can identify where the gas is leaking.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and seal off the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may 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 do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that create carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal indoors. Not only will it make a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined 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 Lincoln. A broken down or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms detect CO gas much quicker than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's vital to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize 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 close to sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or the water heater. Lastly, particularly large homes should consider even more CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the aforementioned suggestions, you should set up three to four carbon monoxide sensors.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against 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 passing on furnace installation in Lincoln to certified professionals like AW Heating & Air Conditioning. They understand how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.