Our Pros Answer Your Questions About Carbon Monoxide

July 05, 2022

Furnaces ignite fuels including oil and natural gas to provide heat for your home. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide is a potentially hazardous gas that can cause a lot of health and breathing complications. Fortunately, furnaces are built with flue pipes that release carbon monoxide safely outside of your house. But in the event a furnace malfunctions or the flue pipes are loose, CO could leak out into your home.

While professional furnace repair in Winnipeg can correct carbon monoxide leaks, it's also important to be familiar with the warning signs of CO in your house. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors inside bedrooms, kitchens and hallways near these rooms. We'll offer up more facts about carbon monoxide so you can take the appropriate 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 ignites, carbon monoxide is created. It normally dissipates over time as CO gas weighs less than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide can reach elevated concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's viewed as a dangerous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels could increase without anybody noticing. This is why it's essential to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is capable of discerning the presence of CO and notifying everyone in the house with the alarm system.

What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?

Carbon monoxide is released when any type of fuel is ignited. This encompasses natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially common because of its wide availability and low 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 may emit carbon monoxide, like:

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

As we stated above, the carbon monoxide a furnace generates is normally vented safely outside of your home through the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't need to worry about carbon monoxide problems due to the fact that they have proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is trapped in your home that it passes concentrations high enough to cause poisoning.

What Can Carbon Monoxide Do to the Body?

After carbon monoxide gas is inhaled, it can adhere to the hemoglobin in your blood cells. This prevents oxygen from binding to the blood cells, getting in the way of your body's capacity to transport oxygen through the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to use it. Insufficient oxygen harms every part of the body. If you're subjected to harmful concentrations 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 complications of carbon monoxide poisoning are even more detrimental. In heavy enough concentrations, it's capable of becoming fatal. Symptoms include things like chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and unconsciousness.

These symptoms (particularly the less serious symptoms) are easily mistaken for the flu due to the fact that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members experiencing symptoms concurrently, it may be indicative that there's a CO gas leak in your home. If you suspect you have CO poisoning, leave the house straight away and call 911. Medical experts can see to it that your symptoms are managed. Then, call a trained technician to inspect your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They can uncover where the gas is escaping.

How to Remove Carbon Monoxide

After a technician has discovered carbon monoxide in your house, they'll find the source and seal off the leak. It could 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 characteristics of carbon monoxide. In the meantime, here's what you can do to limit CO levels in your home:

  1. See to it that your furnace is properly vented and that there are no obstructions in the flue pipe or someplace else that could 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 improve ventilation.
  3. Try not to use a gas stove or oven to heat your home. These appliances would need to run night and day, squandering energy and adding heavy strain on them.
  4. Do not burn charcoal inside. Not only does it create 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 own a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to exit the house.
  7. Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Winnipeg. A broken down or malfunctioning furnace is a common source of carbon monoxide problems.
  8. Most important, set up carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms recognize CO gas much quicker than humans can.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

It's crucial to put in 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 enough time to exit the home. It's also a great idea to put in carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, including your kitchen stove or a water heater. Lastly, especially large homes should look at additional CO detectors for uniform coverage of the entire house.

Let's pretend a home has three floors, including the basement. With the previously mentioned suggestions, you should install three to four carbon monoxide alarms.

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

Professional Installation Minimizes the Risk of Carbon Monoxide

Preventing a carbon monoxide leak is always more effective than fixing the leak once it’s been discovered. A great way to prevent a CO gas leak in your furnace is by trusting furnace installation in Winnipeg to qualified specialists like Kirkfield Heating & Air Conditioning. They understand how to install your chosen make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.