Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels such as oil and natural gas to create heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can trigger all sorts of health and breathing problems. Fortunately, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely outside of your home. But when a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are cracked, CO might leak into your home.

While quality furnace repair in Chelan and Wenatchee can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to recognize the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll offer up more facts 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 consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally disperses over time since CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach higher concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can climb without somebody noticing. This is the reason why it's crucial to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for discerning the presence of CO and alerting everyone in the house using the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is combusted. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular because of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, most of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

Like we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace produces is normally vented safely away from your home via the flue pipe. In fact, most homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they offer sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capacity to transport oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Lack of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're in contact with dangerous levels of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a variety of symptoms:

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

At even more potent levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more serious. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious ones) are frequently mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have several family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it can be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you have CO poisoning, exit the house immediately and contact 911. Medical providers can ensure your symptoms are managed. Then, call a trained technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should determine where the gas is coming from.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

When a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and fix the leak. It could 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 signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to minimize CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or somewhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that emit carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running night and day, wasting energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only will it create 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 vent out of the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Chelan and Wenatchee. A broken or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms notice CO gas much quicker than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's vital to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, including the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces farther from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping sufficient time to evacuate safely. It's also a good idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, especially large homes should think about installing extra CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

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

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than repairing the leak once it’s been found. One of the best ways to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Chelan and Wenatchee to qualified professionals like Lakeside Heating & Air. They know how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.