Every home in the Atlanta area should have at least one carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide gas is odorless, tasteless, invisible – and can be dangerous. All carbon-based heating fuels – oil, natural gas, propane, butane – release carbon monoxide when they burn. The gas is usually vented outside the house, but appliance breakdowns or malfunctions can redirect it into the house.
How is carbon monoxide a health risk? Your lungs continuously extract oxygen from the air. The oxygen combines with a substance in your lungs called hemoglobin, which carries it through your blood to oxygenate your body. Carbon monoxide combines with hemoglobin the same way oxygen does, but binds to it much more tightly. The bound up hemoglobin can’t oxygenate your body and can’t release the carbon monoxide.
All home heating systems and hot water tanks are designed to expel exhaust gases, including carbon monoxide, outside the house. Most older homes in the Atlanta area passively vent the hot exhaust gas outside the house. The hot gas rises above the surrounding air, and is pulled up the flue or chimney by the pressure difference between the outside and the inside of the house. Some systems have blowers that help push the gas out.
A change in pressure inside or outside the house can reverse the flow of exhaust gas. A blocked or damaged flue can also cause the gas to back up. A poorly designed venting system can affect the pressure gradient inside the house, pulling carbon monoxide away from the furnace before it’s exhausted. Depending on the cause of the leak, the buildup of carbon monoxide may be gradual or sudden.
You can place detectors in the basement near the furnace or in other rooms in the house. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation. Carbon monoxide mixes with room air, so there is no need to place the detector up high or near the floor. The best option is to place it where it can be easily serviced and tested. Don’t put it in the garage or porch, or near a chimney, flue, or other area where there is likely to be a lot of air movement.
For any heating service you need in the Atlanta area, give Comfort Zone Heating & Air a call today!