May 10, 2020

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, tasteless, and odorless gas. It can affect any home in San Antonio, TX, and its surrounding areas. It results from the combustion of fuels, such as charcoal, propane, gasoline, diesel, and natural gas. Exposure to carbon monoxide gas at low levels can make you feel sick, and at higher levels, it can lead to death. Here is what you need to know about carbon monoxide in your San Antonio-area home.

What Carbon Monoxide Is

Carbon monoxide is a gas consisting of one carbon molecule and one oxygen molecule. It is a waste product of burning fossil fuels. It is poisonous to people and to animals because it displaces oxygen in the blood. You can breathe in carbon monoxide without realizing it because the gas is in the air. If the concentration of carbon monoxide is high, you could develop symptoms of poisoning within just a few minutes.

Where Carbon Monoxide Is Found

Carbon monoxide is found in fumes from any source of fuel combustion. When your car, furnace, fireplace, wood stove, kerosene heater, charcoal grill, gas grill, or whole-house generator burns fuel, it creates exhaust. Carbon monoxide is one of the waste products of burning fuel. This includes the exhaust of your vehicle, the smoke of your fireplace, and the fumes from your gas oven.

How Carbon Monoxide Gets Into Your Home

In an enclosed space, the concentration of carbon monoxide can build up, reducing the concentration of oxygen. Using a generator, grill, or gas-powered space heater in your home allows the gas to build up. Running your car in an attached garage can also allow carbon monoxide into your home. A problem with your gas furnace, water heater, clothes dryer, oven, or stove may result in carbon monoxide buildup. A blocked flue or chimney prevents the gas from ventilating to the outdoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning is most common when your San Antonio home is tightly sealed with all the doors and windows closed. A cold winter night combined with a malfunctioning furnace or the use of a space heater is a common time when carbon monoxide poisoning occurs.

How Carbon Monoxide Affects Your Body

When you breathe the carbon monoxide gas, it replaces some of the oxygen in your red blood cells. Your blood cells are unable to deliver enough oxygen to your muscles, heart, brain, and other tissues. At a concentration of around 70 parts per million of carbon monoxide, you will start to show symptoms. If the concentration reaches 150 parts per million, you could lose consciousness. The gas can overcome you within a few minutes. Carbon monoxide inhalation can lead to suffocation, and it can be deadly.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic many other common illnesses and conditions. If you live with other people or pets, it is important to tell others you feel unwell. Babies and pets cannot explain their symptoms, so you will need to watch them for signs of distress. At low concentrations of carbon monoxide in your home, you may develop symptoms including:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

If the concentration of carbon monoxide in your home continues to increase, your symptoms can worsen. At medium to high levels of carbon monoxide, poisoning symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness

Death can occur shortly after the loss of consciousness. If you or anyone in your household has any of these symptoms, exit your home immediately. Call for help once you are outside.

Those Who Are Most Susceptible to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Anyone can get carbon monoxide poisoning. However, there are some people at a higher risk. Babies, the elderly, people with asthma or breathing problems, people with heart disease, and people with anemia are the most susceptible. They may have more severe symptoms at lower levels of carbon monoxide.

Ways to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

You can take many actions in order to lower your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in your San Antonio home. If you smell an odor from your refrigerator, oven, water heater, or another appliance, it could be leaking carbon monoxide and a mix of other toxins. Leave your home, and call for help. Avoid running your vehicle’s engine in an attached garage or within 20 feet of your home. When using a grill or generator, keep it at least 20 feet from your home. If your power goes out and you need a generator, make sure you have a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector. Some other ways to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home include:

  • Schedule annual chimney sweeping
  • Check flues for blockages
  • Have gas appliances serviced annually
  • Avoid using ovens for heating
  • Never use charcoal indoors
  • Don’t use portable heaters inside
  • Properly vent gas appliances
  • Choose Underwriters’ Laboratories-certified gas appliances
  • Avoid DIY repairs on gas-powered products

How HVAC Maintenance Helps Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Regular HVAC maintenance is essential to preventing carbon monoxide from getting into your San Antonio home. Air conditioners do not emit carbon monoxide, but your heating system can. Our qualified technicians at Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating recommend an autumn tune-up for your heating system. Gas-powered furnaces and boilers need a thorough inspection. Our technicians check for the presence of carbon monoxide gas when your heating system is cycling. An annual tune-up involves checking the burner, the gas supply, the shut-off valves, and more. We also thoroughly clean the heating system. If carbon monoxide gas is detected, we identify the cause and make the repairs.

Why Carbon Monoxide Detectors Are Important

A carbon monoxide detector alerts you to the presence of a deadly level of carbon monoxide gas in your home. It emits a loud alarm. A digital panel shows a readout of the level of carbon monoxide in your home’s air. However, most carbon monoxide detectors only sound the alarm when the carbon monoxide level is at least 100 parts per million for 90 minutes. You could have symptoms of poisoning at lower levels. This is why heating system maintenance and other prevention strategies are critical to your safety.

Using a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon monoxide detectors can be hard wired into your home’s electrical system, like smoke detectors. It is also a good idea to install a battery-powered backup detector for carbon monoxide. In case of a power outage, the hard-wired detector will not work. Replace the batteries in the backup unit every six months. We can install a detector or recommend one for your San Antonio home.

At Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating, our experienced technicians offer education about carbon monoxide, and our prompt inspections and emergency repair services identify causes of carbon monoxide. You can also rely on our NATE-certified technicians for heating and cooling installations and replacements and maintenance. Our air conditioning repairs, duct repair, duct cleaning, and indoor air quality solutions ensure your year-round comfort. Turn to us for maintenance plans, ductless AC systems, and VRF systems. To learn more about carbon monoxide in your home, call Beyer Air Conditioning & Heating today!

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