Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces combust fuels such as oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can result in all kinds of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are built with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But when a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are loose, CO can get into your house.

While professional furnace repair in Tucson can resolve carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to recognize the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors in bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share more information 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 created. It usually scatters over time since CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach more potent concentrations. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without anyone noticing. This is why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is capable of identifying evidence of CO and notifying you using the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is created when any type of fuel is combusted. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly commonplace because of its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a regular source of household CO emissions. Aside from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that use these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, such as:

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

As we stated above, the carbon monoxide your furnace creates is normally released safely outside of your home with the flue pipe. In fact, the majority of homes won't need to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation since they possess proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it grows to concentrations high enough to induce poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

Once carbon monoxide gas is in your lungs, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, disrupting your body's capacity to carry oxygen throughout the bloodstream. So even if there's enough 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 hazardous amounts of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a variety of symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (particularly the less dangerous signs) are often mistaken for the flu due to the fact 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 suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, get out of the house right away and call 911. Medical providers can make sure your symptoms are treated. Then, call a certified technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will identify where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

Once a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll identify the source and seal the leak. It may be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it may take some time to uncover the correct spot. Your technician will look for soot or smoke stains and other evidence of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Verify that your furnace is appropriately vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, including fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to improve ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would be running around the clock, needlessly consuming energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal indoors. Not only could it create a mess, but it will also emit 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 enable carbon monoxide to leave the house.
  7. Keep up with routine furnace maintenance in Tucson. A damaged or defective furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These helpful alarms notice CO gas much sooner than humans do.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Will I Need?

It's crucial to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home, not to mention the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This provides people who were sleeping adequate time to evacuate safely. It's also a great idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or the water heater. Finally, especially large homes should think about installing additional CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the above recommendations, you'd want to install three to four carbon monoxide detectors.

  • One alarm could be placed around the furnace and/or water heater.
  • The second alarm could be placed around the kitchen.
  • While the third and fourth alarms could be installed near or within bedrooms.

Professional Installation Lowers the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than resolving the leak when it’s been located. One of the best ways to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Tucson to qualified professionals like Ambient Air. They know how to install your desired make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.