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Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels such as oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can trigger a lot of health and breathing issues. Fortunately, furnaces are built with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely away from your house. But in the event a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are broken, CO might leak into the house.

While high quality furnace repair in Racine can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll share more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take 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 burns, carbon monoxide is released. It generally dissipates over time since CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach more potent concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels can rise without someone noticing. That's why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for identifying evidence of CO and warning you via the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is ignited. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace due to its wide availability and affordable price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that require these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is normally removed safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they possess sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capability to carry oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're subjected to harmful amounts 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 heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less serious ones) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have different family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it may be a sign that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and contact 911. Medical professionals can ensure your symptoms are managed. Then, call a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is escaping.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a bit of time to locate the right spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can manage to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or someplace else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only does it leave a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Try not to use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Racine. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms detect CO gas much faster than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, not to mention the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or your water heater. And finally, especially large homes should look at extra CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the above guidelines, you'll want to install three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always better than fixing the leak after it’s been found. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Racine to qualified specialists like Keystone Heating & Air Conditioning Co., Inc. They understand how to install your chosen make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.