Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels such as oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can result in a lot of health and breathing issues. Luckily, furnaces are built with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are loose, CO might leak out into your house.

While high quality furnace repair in Laguna Niguel can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also essential to recognize the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll review more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate steps to keep you and your family breathing easy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is released. It usually scatters over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without anybody noticing. This is the reason why it's important to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for identifying faint traces of CO and alerting your family via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is combusted. This includes 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. Besides your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels can emit carbon monoxide, including:

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

As we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is ordinarily vented safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they have adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once 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 move oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Lack of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're in contact with harmful quantities 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 side effects of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In high enough concentrations, it's capable of being fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less dangerous signs) are easily mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it may be evidence that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house immediately and contact 911. Medical professionals can ensure your symptoms are managed. Then, contact a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will 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 fix the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take a bit of time to uncover the exact spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is correctly 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 create carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve 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 putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal indoors. Not only will it leave a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using 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 exit the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Laguna Niguel. A damaged or defective furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much earlier than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's vital to install at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, including the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping adequate time to get out. It's also a good idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. Finally, especially large homes should look at extra CO detectors for consistent distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the aforementioned suggestions, you should install three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm could be mounted close to the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm could be put in near the kitchen.
  • And the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or in bedrooms.

Professional Installation Diminishes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak when it’s been located. An easy way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Laguna Niguel to licensed specialists like Ocean Air Conditioning and Heating . They know how to install your preferred make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.