A carbon monoxide alarm is an important life-saving device. If you have a gas furnace, you should install these alarms in your home to warn you of a furnace problem that is causing carbon monoxide to leak. Ideally, you'll have an alarm in the basement and all levels of your house, especially near bedrooms. Here's why a carbon monoxide alarm is important when you have a gas furnace and what to do when it goes off.
Why Your Gas Furnace Needs A CO Alarm
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of burning fuel, such as natural gas or propane. As long as your furnace is in good shape, carbon monoxide gas isn't a danger because it is collected and vented out of your house. However, when the flue or heat exchanger cracks, then carbon monoxide leaks into your home instead.
Problems like this can often be prevented by having a heating contractor inspect and clean your furnace annually. If a crack does occur and carbon monoxide leaks out, then the alarm will go off as long as the batteries aren't dead. For this reason, testing and changing the batteries in your CO alarms regularly is essential.
If carbon monoxide is leaking in your home, you may experience symptoms that make you feel like you have the flu. While you won't have a fever, you may feel dizzy and nauseous, have a headache, be short of breath, and feel confused or weak. These symptoms may be mild with low-level exposure, but they can cause death when you're exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide. You could lose consciousness quickly as the carbon monoxide is inhaled and replaces oxygen in your lungs. Therefore, you should never ignore a beeping or chirping carbon monoxide alarm.
What To Do If The Alarm Goes Off
If it's possible, you should get out of the house immediately and call 911. However, if you have to get a senior citizen out of bed or round up young kids and can't act as quickly, then open the windows to get air in your house. Get your family together and get them out of the house as fast as possible and call 911 for medical treatment if anyone shows signs of carbon monoxide poisoning. Once the fire department has arrived, they can enter your home with breathing assistance if necessary and verify the cause of the CO leak. If it's determined to be the furnace, then you'll need to call a heating contractor to make repairs and test the system before you can turn the furnace back on.