Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuel like oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a side effect 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 designed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely away from your house. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO could leak out into the house.

While quality furnace repair in Gresham can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to learn the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll review more info about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is produced. It normally disperses over time as 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 regarded as a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without someone noticing. This is why it's vital to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's capable of identifying the presence of CO and notifying you using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind of fuel is ignited. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace because of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that require these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we outlined above, the carbon monoxide your furnace creates is ordinarily removed safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they possess sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does 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 transport oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're exposed to harmful 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 more potent levels, the complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (especially the less severe signs) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members suffering from symptoms simultaneously, it could be indicative that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you believe you have CO poisoning, get out of the house immediately and call 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are controlled. Then, contact a certified technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should find where the gas is leaking.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal off the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take some time to uncover the correct spot. Your technician will be looking for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can manage to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there are no clogs in the flue pipe or someplace else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that emit carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Never use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running night and day, squandering energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only could it leave a mess, but it can produce more carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in compact spaces.
  6. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Gresham. A damaged or faulty furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms recognize CO gas much sooner than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's important to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, as well as the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping enough time to exit the home. It's also a good idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or your water heater. Lastly, especially large homes should consider even more CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the above suggestions, you should set up three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than fixing the leak when it’s been discovered. An easy way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Gresham to trained specialists like Honke Heating & AC. They understand how to install your preferred make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.