Furnaces burn fuel like oil and natural gas to produce heat for your home. As a side effect of this process, carbon monoxide is created. Carbon monoxide is a common and hazardous gas that can lead to a lot of health and breathing issues. Thankfully, furnaces are installed with flue pipes that vent carbon monoxide safely out of your home. But when a furnace breaks down or the flue pipes are damaged, CO might leak into your house.
While quality furnace repair in Des Moines can fix carbon monoxide leaks, it's also critical to know the warning signs of CO poisoning. You should also set up carbon monoxide detectors near bedrooms, kitchens and hallways nearby these rooms. We'll review more information 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 made up of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. When something such as wood, coal or natural gas burns, carbon monoxide is released. It usually disperses over time because CO gas is lighter than air. But when your home or furnace doesn’t have enough ventilation, carbon monoxide could reach higher concentrations. What's more, one of the reasons it's regarded as a hazardous gas is because it has no color, odor or taste. Levels can rise without someone noticing. This is the reason why it's essential to install a carbon monoxide detector in your home. A CO detector is perfect for identifying evidence of CO and warning your family using the alarm system.
What Emits Carbon Monoxide in a House?
Carbon monoxide is produced when any kind of fuel is burned. This includes natural gas, propane, oil, wood and coal. Natural gas is especially popular due to its wide availability and low price, making it a frequent source of household CO emissions. Apart from your furnace, many of your home's other appliances that use these fuels may emit carbon monoxide, including:
- Water heaters
- Wood stoves
- Hot tubs
- and more
As we outlined before, the carbon monoxide the furnace generates is normally vented safely out of your home via the flue pipe. In fact, nearly all homes don't have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning due to the fact that they offer proper ventilation. It's only when CO gas is confined 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 breathed in, 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 ability to transport oxygen in the bloodstream. So even if there's sufficient oxygen in a room, your body wouldn't be able to utilize it. Insufficient oxygen affects every part of the body. If you're subjected to dangerous concentrations of CO over a long period of time, you might experience a number of symptoms:
- 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 can include chest pain, confusion, agitation, seizures and loss of consciousness.
These symptoms (namely the less serious ones) are easily mistaken for the flu given that they're so generalized. But if you have multiple family members suffering from symptoms concurrently, it could be a sign that there's CO gas in your home. If you believe you are struggling with CO poisoning, exit the house straight away and call 911. Medical professionals can see to it that your symptoms are managed. Then, get in touch with a professional technician to check your furnace and HVAC ventilation system. They will uncover where the gas is escaping.
How to Remove 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 may take a bit of time to uncover the right 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 reduce CO levels in your home:
- See to it that your furnace is adequately vented and that there aren't any obstructions in the flue pipe or anywhere else that could trap carbon monoxide gas in your home.
- Keep doors open between rooms when using appliances that emit 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 need to run night and day, needlessly consuming energy and adding heavy strain on them.
- Never burn charcoal inside. Not only could it create a mess, but it will also emit carbon monoxide.
- Avoid using fuel-powered generators, pressure washers or other gas-powered tools in enclosed spaces.
- If you own a wood-burning fireplace, verify that the flue is open when in use to allow carbon monoxide to leave the house.
- Stay on top of routine furnace maintenance in Des Moines. A broken down or faulty furnace is a frequent source of carbon monoxide problems.
- Most important, install carbon monoxide detectors. These useful alarms recognize CO gas much sooner than humans do.
How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?
It's vital to put in at least one carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. Focus on bedrooms and other spaces further away from the exits. This gives people who were sleeping sufficient time to get out. It's also a smart idea to install carbon monoxide alarms near sources of CO gas, such as your kitchen stove or the water heater. And finally, very large homes should consider even more CO detectors for equal protection for the entire house.
Let's pretend a home has three floors, along with the basement. With the above recommendations, you'll want to set up three to four carbon monoxide detectors.
- One alarm could be mounted around the furnace and/or water heater.
- The second alarm should be placed near the kitchen.
- Both the third and fourth alarms should be installed near or inside bedrooms.
Professional Installation Reduces the Risk of Carbon Monoxide
Avoiding a carbon monoxide leak is always better than repairing the leak after it’s been located. A great way to avoid a CO gas leak in your furnace is by passing on furnace installation in Des Moines to qualified experts like Kohles & Bach Heating & Cooling. They recognize how to install your ideal make and model to ensure optimum efficiency and minimal risk.