Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing complications. Thankfully, furnaces are designed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might leak out into your home.

While professional furnace repair in Menomonie and western Wisconsin can take care of carbon monoxide leaks, it's also crucial to learn the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also put in carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways close by these rooms. We'll review more info about carbon monoxide so you can make a plan to keep you and your family safe.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When a flammable fuel like wood, coal or natural gas combusts, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally dissipates over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach higher concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's viewed as a harmful gas is because it doesn't have a color, odor or taste. Levels may rise without anybody noticing. This is the reason why it's crucial to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is capable of identifying faint traces of CO and warning everyone in the house via the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any kind of fuel is ignited. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace as a result of its prevalence and affordable price, making it a consistent source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that use these fuels will emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

Like we outlined before, the carbon monoxide a furnace emits is ordinarily released safely out of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning since they possess proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Will Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After 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, interrupting your body's ability to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's plenty of oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're in contact with dangerous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you could experience the following symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (especially the less dangerous signs) are easily mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have different family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it could be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you think you are struggling with CO poisoning, leave the house straight away and call 911. Medical experts can ensure your symptoms are treated. Then, call a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can find where the gas is escaping.

How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide

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

  1. Verify that your furnace is adequately vented and that there are no clogs 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 create carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run constantly, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Never burn charcoal inside. Not only will it make 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 have a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to permit carbon monoxide to vent out of the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Menomonie and western Wisconsin. A broken or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms recognize CO gas much quicker than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Should I Install?

It's important to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, as well as the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping adequate time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, like your kitchen stove or a water heater. Finally, particularly large homes should think about installing additional CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

Suppose a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the above suggestions, you'll want to put in three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

  • One alarm could be mounted near the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm could be set up near the kitchen.
  • And the third and fourth alarms can be installed near or within bedrooms.

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than repairing the leak after it’s been found. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Menomonie and western Wisconsin to certified specialists like Halverson Brothers Inc. They recognize how to install your preferred make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.