Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces burn fuel like oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can trigger a lot of health and breathing issues. Luckily, furnaces are built with flue pipes that ventilate carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But in the event a furnace breaks or the flue pipes are loose, CO might leak into the house.

While quality furnace repair in Hudsonville can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to be familiar with the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll share more information about carbon monoxide so you can take 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 released. It generally dissipates over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach more potent concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's considered a harmful gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can increase without anybody noticing. This is the reason why it's essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. It's perfect for identifying the presence of CO and notifying everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any form of fuel is burned. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially common as a result of its wide availability and inexpensive price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that utilize these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

Like we stated above, the carbon monoxide a furnace produces is normally released safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, most homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation because they possess adequate 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?

Once carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can bind to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capacity to carry oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're exposed to dangerous levels of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a number of symptoms:

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

At even steeper levels, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more severe. In large enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious signs) are easily mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have different family members experiencing symptoms simultaneously, it could be a sign that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you think you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house straight away and contact 911. Medical professionals can see to it that your symptoms are controlled. Then, call a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is coming from.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has found carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and fix the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a while to find the correct spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can manage to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there aren't any clogs 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 create carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running night and day, needlessly consuming energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside your home. Not only could 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 confined spaces.
  6. If you own 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 Hudsonville. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most importantly, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms recognize CO gas much earlier than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's crucial to set up at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This offers 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, like your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, particularly large homes should look at extra CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.

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

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak after it’s been found. One of the best ways to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Hudsonville to licensed professionals like West Michigan Heating & Air Conditioning Services. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.