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Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuel like oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a complication of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is flammable and hazardous gas that can trigger all kinds of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are built with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of the house. But in the event a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are loose, CO might leak into the house.

While professional furnace repair in Portland can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to recognize the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also install carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll share more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take steps to keep you and your family safe.

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 combusts, carbon monoxide is produced. It generally disperses over time as CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have adequate ventilation, carbon monoxide may reach elevated concentrations. In fact, one of the reasons it's regarded as a dangerous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could rise without anybody noticing. That's why it's crucial to put in a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A carbon monoxide detector is perfect for discerning faint traces of CO and warning your family via the alarm system.

What Produces Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is produced when any type of fuel is burnt. This may include natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is particularly popular due to its prevalence and inexpensive price, making it a well-known source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, lots of your home's other appliances that use these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

Like we stated earlier, the carbon monoxide a furnace emits is usually removed safely outside of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide accumulation because they offer adequate ventilation. It's only when CO gas is contained in your home that it reaches concentrations high enough to induce 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 keeps oxygen from binding to the blood cells, interrupting your body's capacity to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's adequate oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. A shortage of oxygen impacts every part of the body. If you're subjected to harmful quantities of CO over a long period of time, you may experience the following symptoms:

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

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

These symptoms (particularly the less serious symptoms) are often mistaken for the flu because they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it might be indicative that there's carbon monoxide in your home. If you suspect you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and call 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are controlled. Then, get in touch with a certified technician to examine your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will determine where the gas is leaking.

How to Eliminate Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has confirmed there's carbon monoxide in your house, they'll determine the source and seal off the leak. It could be any of your fuel-burning appliances, so it might take some time to locate the exact spot. Your technician can look for soot or smoke stains and other signs of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can work on to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. Make sure your furnace is properly vented and that there aren't any clogs in the flue pipe or anywhere else that would trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
  2. Keep doors open between rooms whenever you use appliances that produce carbon monoxide, such as fireplaces, stoves or ovens, to maximize ventilation.
  3. Avoid using a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run around the clock, wasting energy and putting heavy strain on them.
  4. Don't burn charcoal inside. Not only does it create a mess, but it's also a source of carbon monoxide.
  5. Don't use fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in confined spaces.
  6. If you use 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 Portland. A damaged or defective furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide emissions.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms notice CO gas much faster than humans will.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's vital to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home, as well as the basement. Concentrate on bedrooms and other spaces further from the exits. This offers people who were sleeping plenty of time to exit the home. It's also a great idea to set up carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, especially large homes should think about installing even more CO detectors for equal distribution throughout the entire house.

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

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

Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than resolving the leak after it’s been located. A great way to avert a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Portland to qualified experts like Three Rivers Heating & Cooling. They know how to install your desired make and model to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal risk.