Furnaces burn fuels such as 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 all kinds of health and breathing complications. Thankfully, furnaces are manufactured with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely away from the house. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are cracked, CO could leak out into your house.
While high quality furnace repair in Payson can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to learn the warning signs of CO in your home's air. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll offer up 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 comprised of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is created. It generally dissipates over time because CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have sufficient ventilation, carbon monoxide will sometimes reach higher concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's considered a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could climb without anybody noticing. That's why it's essential to have a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for recognizing evidence of CO and alerting everyone in the house with the alarm system.
What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?
Carbon monoxide is produced when any form of fuel is combusted. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially commonplace due to its availability and inexpensive 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, such as:
- Water heaters
- Wood stoves
- Hot tubs
- and more
As we mentioned earlier, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is normally removed safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems since they offer sufficient 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?
When carbon monoxide gas is breathed in, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This blocks oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capability to carry oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's enough oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to absorb it. A shortage of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're subjected to hazardous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you can experience a number of symptoms:
- 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 being fatal. Symptoms can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.
These symptoms (namely the less dangerous ones) are frequently mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it might be indicative that there's CO gas in your home. If you believe you are suffering from CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and call 911. Medical professionals can make sure your symptoms are managed. Then, call a professional technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is coming from.
How to Get Rid of Carbon Monoxide
After a technician has identified carbon monoxide in your house, they'll pinpoint the source and seal off the leak. It might be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take a while to uncover the exact spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here are some things you can work on to minimize CO levels in your home:
- Verify that your furnace is correctly vented and that there are no clogs in the flue pipe or somewhere else that can trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
- Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that produce carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to increase ventilation.
- Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would have to run around the clock, wasting energy and adding heavy strain on them.
- Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only will it leave a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
- Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
- If you own a wood-burning fireplace, make sure the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
- Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Payson. A damaged or malfunctioning furnace is a likely source of carbon monoxide problems.
- Most important, put in carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms notice CO gas much earlier than humans will.
How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?
It's important to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, not to mention the basement. Prioritize bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping sufficient time to get out. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms around sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, very large homes should look at extra CO detectors for consistent coverage of the entire house.
Suppose a home has three floors, as well as the basement. With the aforementioned guidelines, you'd want to install three to four carbon monoxide alarms.
- One alarm can be placed near the furnace and/or water heater.
- The second alarm can be placed around the kitchen.
- Both the third and fourth alarms should be installed near or inside bedrooms.
Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide
Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always more beneficial than fixing the leak after it’s been located. An easy way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Payson to qualified experts like North Mechanical Heating and Cooling. They understand how to install your chosen make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.