Carbon monoxide (CO) is an invisible, odorless, tasteless, and silent gas that is toxic to people and pets. As natural gas fuel is combusted from within the furnace’s burning chamber, it produces CO as one of its waste products. An improperly working, poorly maintained, or damaged furnace can result in CO leaking into the home’s living spaces, affecting the health and safety of everyone inside.
Where CO Comes From
When natural gas fuel is not completely combusted, CO is released as a waste product. Even when a furnace is properly operating, a small amount of CO will be generated. The ventilation system blows the gas out through the flue so it doesn’t become a health hazard or problem within the home.
What Causes CO to Leak
A crack, loose connection, or another mechanical problem in the furnace, combustion chamber, ventilation system, or flue can result in CO leaking into the home’s living spaces. This can happen suddenly due to a part breaking. CO leaks can also happen gradually, such as when buildup in the flue blocks the ventilation process.
Health Effects of CO Poisoning
Exposure to CO at low doses makes a person feel as if they are ill with the flu. Common symptoms include constant headaches, fatigue, nausea, and weakness. If the level of CO in the air increases, people may experience worsening symptoms that include headache, dizziness, confusion, convulsions, fast heartbeat, and if the level of CO is high enough, death may occur.
Homeowners with gas-powered furnaces and home appliances should install a CO detector on every level of their homes. The CO detectors are designed to detect the presence of CO in the air. A detector should be placed outside the bedrooms, in the basement, in the garage, and every other level of the home where people spend time. Safety experts recommend that the detectors be interconnected and contain a battery backup in case of a loss of electrical power.
What to Do If You Have a CO Leak
If a CO detector goes off, immediately leave the house and contact the High Springs, FL emergency police and fire service. While outside of the home, homeowners can also contact the gas company and our technicians for repair of the malfunctioning equipment.
CO poisoning is a serious health concern, especially during the winter months when homeowners keep their windows closed and the furnace is running. Proper heating system maintenance, prompt repair, and CO detectors can help ensure the safety of everyone inside the home. Call us at Bounds Heating & Air to schedule a maintenance service or repair or to learn more about the dangers of CO in your home.