Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels including oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is released. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can lead to all kinds of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are built with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely outside of the house. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are loose, CO might leak into the house.

While high quality furnace repair in Wausau can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll share more facts about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan to keep you and your family breathing easy.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a fuel such as wood, coal or natural gas ignites, 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 can reach more potent 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 could rise without somebody noticing. This is why it's vital to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is ideal for recognizing faint traces of CO and alerting everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Creates Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is burned. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially common because of its wide availability and affordable price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, most 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

As we mentioned above, the carbon monoxide the furnace produces is normally released safely out of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning because they offer proper 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 inhaled, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This stops oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capacity to transport oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. A shortage of oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're in contact with hazardous levels of CO over a long period of time, you may experience a number of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (particularly the less severe ones) are frequently mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have several family members struggling with symptoms concurrently, it can be a sign that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and contact 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are treated. Then, get in touch with a certified technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can identify where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and fix the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a while to uncover the correct spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can do to reduce CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any blockages in the flue pipe or someplace else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms when you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, like fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run constantly, needlessly consuming energy and placing heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it make 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 have a wood-burning fireplace, ensure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Wausau. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide leaks.
  8. Most importantly, install carbon monoxide detectors. These handy alarms recognize CO gas much quicker than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's crucial to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, not to mention the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping adequate time to evacuate safely. It's also a smart idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms close to sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or a water heater. And finally, especially large homes should look at extra CO detectors for consistent protection for the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the previously mentioned recommendations, you'll want to set up three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Protecting against a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak once it’s been found. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by leaving furnace installation in Wausau to licensed experts like Gilray Heating and Cooling. They know how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.