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 side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can result in a lot of health and breathing complications. Luckily, furnaces are built with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But if a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are cracked, CO might get into your house.

While high quality furnace repair in St. Louis can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll offer up more info 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 composed of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally dissipates over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach elevated concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can increase without anybody noticing. This is the reason why it's important to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is capable of discerning evidence of CO and notifying you with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any kind of fuel is burned. This means natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace as a result of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Besides your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that require these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we mentioned before, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is ordinarily vented safely away from your home through the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems because they possess sufficient ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Does Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can attach to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capacity to carry oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. Lack of oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're exposed to harmful concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you could 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 detrimental. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (namely the less serious ones) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it may be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you believe you have CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and call 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are managed. Then, contact a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They should find where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

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

  1. See to it that your furnace is properly vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only will it create a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you own a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to enable carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in St. Louis. A broken or faulty furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms notice CO gas much quicker than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, as well as the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping plenty of time to evacuate safely. It's also a good idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, very large homes should look at additional CO detectors for equal protection for the entire house.

Let's say a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the previously mentioned recommendations, you'd want to install three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm can be mounted around the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm should be set up around the kitchen.
  • And 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 better than fixing the leak after it’s been found. A great way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in St. Louis to trained experts like Morgner Inc. Air Conditioning & Heating. They recognize how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.