How Far Should Carbon Monoxide Detector Be from Furnace?

How Far Should Carbon Monoxide Detector Be from Furnace?
A Carbon Monoxide Detector

A carbon monoxide detector is an excellent safety necessity that every household needs. It will save you from carbon monoxide poisoning and its related effects by alerting you when this poisonous gas’ concentration is higher than recommended. The locations of the CO detector are just as crucial as they will impact its effectiveness. This is why there are several dos and don’ts when determining the location of your CO detector. So, how far should carbon monoxide detector be from furnace?

Furnaces produce small amounts of carbon monoxide that are not harmful to humans, which will trigger the CO detector unnecessarily.

Why? We recommend installing your carbon monoxide detector at least fifteen to twenty feet from the furnace. Installing it closer than the recommended distance will result in the device sounding false alarms.

We all know how frustrating this can be. Going through the panic and havoc that comes with the sounding of the CO alarm is one thing; realizing that the alarm was a false trigger is another. It can be annoying and nerve-wracking.

This article will address several points of concern regarding the installation of carbon monoxide detectors, recommended positions, carbon monoxide poisoning, and its associated outcomes. 

Read on to find out more!

Can You Sleep In a Room With a Furnace?

Winter is such a cold season! It’s not surprising that people complain of howling winds and whipping storms during this period that keeps everyone cold.

It is also not surprising that for this reason, some people want to keep furnaces in or near their bedrooms. So, can you sleep in a room with a furnace?

Yes, you can install a furnace in a sleeping area, but you would have to follow some rules and regulations, depending on your state’s law, for safety purposes.

One of the expectations in installing a furnace or any other gas appliance in our sleeping area is that it must be a direct-vent appliance following the conditions of the listings and instructions from the manufacturer. 

Therefore, you are expected to construct and install your appliance in a way that allows all its combustion air to come directly from outside. 

You also must ensure that the exhaust gases are discharged directly from the outdoors. One typical example of such a system is a high-efficiency furnace consisting of two pipe systems.

However, a high-efficiency furnace can be installed with a single pipe, which will not be considered a direct-vent installation.

Also, you can sleep in a room with a furnace if the room is big enough. We recommend 50 cubic feet for every 1,0000 BTUs.

There are two opposing views concerning sleeping with a furnace in a room. While others presume it is unproblematic as long as certain conditions are met, others strongly argue against it.

Those who advise against installing a furnace in the sleeping area cite the following reasons:

  • Burners are the primary components of a furnace that people should be very alert to. The furnace generates heat as gas or propane that causes the fire to heat up and create hot air.
  • Gas and propane are considered the most dangerous parts of the furnace as they produce toxic fumes. These fumes could negatively impact you, especially when asleep.
  • Also, in case of furnace malfunctions, you are bound to lose your valuable possessions.

While this argument makes sense, it is also wise to consider that the probability of such events occurring will be low if you follow the prescribed conditions.

Summarily, sleeping with a furnace in the bedroom is safe as long as the installation is a direct vent. It is also safe if you’ve tucked the furnace into a separate bedroom opening, as long as your door is self-closing and solid-weather stripped.

If the second option works better for you, also ensure that you add combustion air into your sleeping area.

How to Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Before installing your carbon monoxide detector, you should research options that suit your home’s unique needs. Two primary types of carbon monoxide detectors are battery-operated and AC-powered.

We advise using the AC-powered ones because some people have trouble remembering to change the batteries. While researching, also go for a detector that is loud and fast enough as the levels of carbon monoxide increase.

You also want to decide where to place your CO detector, which is crucial. Carbon monoxide is lighter than air and, hence would easily rise. For this reason, we advise installing it near the ceiling and away from fuel-burning appliances. 

Install it at least fifteen feet away from cooking and heating appliances and away from excessively humid areas. Also, while installing, ensure that the detector is not covered by drapery, furniture, or anything else that might tamper with its functionality.

NOTE: Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends installing a CO detector near your bedroom so it will wake you up when asleep. It also advises installing the detectors on every level of your house if you live in multi-level apartments.

Here is how you install the carbon monoxide detector:

  • Unpack and Read the Installation Instructions

AC-powered units don’t have much to handle as they are simply plugged in. Battery-operated devices come with screws and anchors. Check and ensure that the packaging contains everything you need.

  • Mark Installation Holes

Remove the twist-off base and line it with the wall in your installation position of choice. Use a pencil to mark the dots.

  • Punch Holes in the Dots

Use a wall punch and a hammer to make holes in the spots you’ve just marked. Ensure that you don’t make more extensive holes than the screw anchors for them to fit perfectly.

  • Install the Screw Anchors

Use the screw anchors provided by your manufacturer and install them on top of the holes you punched. Use a hammer to tap them into position gently, one after the other.

  • Install the Detector Base

This applies if the detector you purchased has a twist-off base. Take it off and put it into position using a screwdriver and the supplied screws.

If the detector does not have a twist off base, insert the screws into the anchors and carefully fit them in. Be careful not to tighten them. Also, ensure they are protruding enough for the detector to fit over them.

Also, install the batteries and fit the detector into position.

  • Test Your Detector

After installing, you must test your CO detector to ensure it functions perfectly. Testing will also help you familiarize yourself with the device’s different sound patterns.

To test the detector, hold down the test button until you hear two beeps, then release your finger.

Repeat this, but this time wait until you hear four beeps. This will inform you that a signal was sent to the monitoring station. 

Expect your alarm to reset to its original state after 10-15 minutes.

  • Schedule for the Replacement of Your Batteries

You should replace the batteries approximately twice a year. Do this by manually marking your calendars or setting up reminders on your electronic devices. Also, check the chemicals that enable the detection process, as you have to replenish them periodically.

TIP: Ensure you frequently check your carbon monoxide detector, especially at the onset of the winter season, to ensure they are in perfect condition. Also, install them away from pets and children to avoid tampering.

Here’s a Video On How to Install Carbon Monoxide Detector:

Should a Carbon Monoxide Detector Be Placed High or Low?

Whether you should place your carbon monoxide detector low on the wall close to the floor or high on the wall close to the ceiling has been a bone of contention for a while.

Carbon monoxide is less dense than air, a property that allows it to rise and accumulate near ceilings. For this reason, we recommend installing your CO detectors higher on the walls or the ceiling.

However, be keen not to place them too high and hard-to-reach places as this may encourage you to ignore them in case of a problem.

Interestingly, another research led by a pulmonologist proved otherwise. 

 The research involved the construction of an 8-foot-tall airtight chamber where carbon monoxide detectors were placed at the top, bottom, and middle. The researchers then infused carbon monoxide into the chambers in separate trials at each level.

This research indicated that carbon monoxide did not level out at any chamber level. Instead, the gas spread evenly throughout the chamber over time. While the researchers also noted that CO is lighter than air, they also said that the difference was so subtle that it did not impact the concentration of the gas.

From this experiment, it is safe to conclude that the position of your carbon monoxide detector doesn’t matter; what matters is that you have CO detectors throughout your house.

Also, the positioning of the detector depends on the type of device from your manufacturer. Some detectors need to be plugged into an outlet. In search of a case, you will have to place them lower to the ground.

Other detectors have a digital display that monitors carbon monoxide levels. In such a case, it would help if you placed them at eye level.

Other CO detectors will come with specific instructions on the height placement. Please follow them.

REMINDER: Place your carbon monoxide detectors near all bedrooms or sleeping areas, on every level of the house, and near appliances and systems that produce carbon monoxide. The more detectors you have, the safer you are!

Where Should a Carbon Monoxide Detector Be Placed in a Hallway?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommended installing carbon monoxide detectors on all levels of the house, in all sleeping areas and shared rooms, including the hallway. You should not install your CO detectors only near gas and heat appliances that produce CO gas to avoid false alarms.

The hallway, in particular, is a vital location when considering the placement of your CO alarm. This is because putting detectors in hallways allows you to hear the warning about the presence of CO gas before the gas penetrates your room.

Remember, the gas is odorless and tasteless; you will not notice its presence until it’s too late, especially when you are asleep.

The exact position is still a point of debate among several homeowners. However, the position of your installation depends on the instructions from your manufacturer and the type of detector you use.

As we said, where you position it doesn’t matter; what matters is that you have the device and it is functioning as desired. 

Most people prefer mounting it high on the wall or near the ceiling because carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air, so it would rise.

Other detectors have a digital display, and so those using them prefer installing them at an eye level so they can read the CO levels.

Other detectors are designed to be plugged in so others will have them slightly above the ground.

No one shoe fits all in this case. Position the detector anywhere in the hallway, depending on your unique needs.

How Do You Know If Your Furnace Is Blowing Carbon Monoxide?

Your furnace often produces a significant amount of carbon monoxide when running. People like to crank up the thermostat when the temperatures begin to go down, especially during winter. Before discussing how to tell if your furnace is blowing CO, we must first learn how it works.

How A Furnace Works

Furnaces are operated by propane or gas. The heating cycle of a forced-air furnace in your home looks like this:

  • The burner ignites natural gas or propane.
  • The flames will heat a metal heat exchanger, which will, in return, exhaust out of the flue.
  • The heat from the heat exchanger is transferred to the incoming air.
  • The furnace blower then forces the heated air into the ductwork and supplies it throughout your house.
  • The warm air fills the room while the colder and denser air is drawn back into the furnace through the return duct, and the cycle keeps repeating.

The furnace also contains a control board that alerts the thermostats in each room, thus controlling what room to blow heat into.

It filters out the cold air as it generates heat. The colder air is again filtered back into the furnace where it is heating, hence the warmth and the coziness in your room.

While a furnace is designed to vent carbon monoxide away from the house, it can develop a leak if it is old or poorly maintained. This is dangerous as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that carbon monoxide is a silent killer that takes hundreds of lives annually.

The bad news is that you cannot tell whether your furnace is blowing out carbon monoxide gas by simply looking at it. The good news is that a carbon monoxide detector will alert you as it will beep once it detects increased levels of the poisonous gas. 

However, some signs and scenarios will give you a clue about the situation. Below are signs that your furnace is blowing carbon monoxide:

  • Presence of a yellow or flickering flame. Under normal circumstances, the flame is usually blue. Changing into yellow is a possible indicator that it may be burning carbon monoxide.
  • Presence of Moisture around your windows or walls. The condensation on the window or wall indicates that your furnace is not venting as expected. This is because water is a by-product of combustion. Therefore, the moisture collected on windows signifies that carbon monoxide has accompanied the water vapor of a malfunctioning furnace since it is another by-product of combustion.
  • Streaks of Soot. The sooty-like appearance can be brown, black, or yellow, which indicates carbon monoxide leakage.
  • Rust on the vent pipe. This could have resulted from water and moisture leaking out, thus indicating a leak from the furnace.

These signs usually result from the furnace’s burner not receiving adequate air, causing improper combustion. This is reflected in the high levels of carbon monoxide produced. These signs will then manifest in the following locations in your furnace:

The Heat Exchanger

Combustion takes place in this location. Air is then sent out from the furnace to the flue pipe. You may notice cracks in this area as they allow the air to circulate into the home rather than venting outside.

The Exhaust Flue

This is the round pipe going from the top of the furnace and exiting the home through the roof, from which it exhausts the air. However, the older your furnace gets, the less functional it becomes.

Therefore, moisture can get into the exhaust flue pipe, and just like the heat exchanger, it will rust and develop cracks/ holes. When this happens, carbon monoxide will be released into the house instead of outside the home.

CAUTION! Carbon monoxide leaks usually result from unprofessional maintenance or poor installation of appliances. Call a licensed professional to fix your problem if you notice any of the mentioned signs, call a licensed professional to fix your problem.

How Long Does It Take to Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Carbon monoxide poisoning will occur if you inhale combustion fumes. When the CO concentration is too high, your body will replace the oxygen as the red blood cells readily absorb the CO gas. If this happens, the CO will prevent oxygen from reaching your tissues and organs, causing adverse health effects.

CO concentration and exposure period will determine how fast or slow you experience carbon monoxide poisoning.

High concentrations of CO are hazardous and can kill in less than five minutes. On the contrary, if the concentration is low, it will take a more extended period to affect the body.

If the concentrations exceed the Environmental Protection Agency of 9 parts per million (PPM) for over eight hours will result in adverse health risks for the affected person. This is why the U.S. occupational health and safety limit for healthy workers is 50PPM.

Other factors, alongside the time of exposure, such as the person inhaling the CO’s activity level, age, sex, and general health, will determine the poisoning period. For instance, a concentration of 400 ppm will reflect through headaches in an hour or two.

If exposed to the same concentration for three to five hours, one may fall unconscious or die even worse.

Signs and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include dull headaches, weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, breath shortness, confusion, poor muscle coordination, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness.

The gas is more dangerous for people who are sleeping or intoxicated. This is why we insist on installing carbon monoxide detectors in all the sleeping areas or the hallways leading to the bedrooms.

  • Health Effects of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is a highly hazardous gas as it binds hemoglobin in the blood, thus reducing its ability to transport oxygen to the needed locations in the body.

The most common effects of CO poisoning include muscle and body fatigue, mild headaches, confusion, and dizziness. This is usually associated with the inadequate supply and delivery of oxygen to the brain.

People with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart disease are often at higher risk of CO poisoning. Increased chest pains and decreased exercise intolerance come with a low oxygen supply to the heart muscle.

For instance, if people with cardiovascular disease are exposed to high CO levels for a short time, it will reduce their body’s ability to respond to increased demand for oxygen for exercise, exertion, or stress.

Unborn babies and expectant mothers are also at a higher risk of CO poisoning. Expectant mothers are at a higher risk because of the high ventilation rate during pregnancy, leading to high carbon monoxide intake. 

For developing fetuses, oxygen is released at a lower oxygen partial pressure, while fetal hemoglobin binds faster with carbon monoxide than adults. This will negatively affect the growth and development of a fetus. It may also result in the death of the fetus.

Once you notice any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning or hear the CO detector sound, ventilate the house. Open the windows and doors and immediately remove yourself and your loved ones from this environment. Call 911 and inform them of the situation. You can also visit the emergency room for more health evaluation.

Problems That Occur When a Furnace Isn’t Venting Properly

We advise you to keep a close eye on your furnace as soon as it shows signs of struggling to maintain a comfortable temperature. You can quickly solve some minor problems if you identify them soon enough. You will be surprised that this can even save you from the agony of replacing a furnace when the cold season is at its peak.

Check out the following problems that would occur if your furnace is not venting properly:

  • If your furnace starts and stops

Your furnace cycling on and off could result from a system problem that makes it cut before completing an entire heating cycle. This could mean that your motor is dying. It could also mean a slight problem with the heating sensor, which you could solve by cleaning.

  • Change in the Burner Flame Color

If your furnace is not venting properly, it will manifest through a yellow color in the burner flame. The standard color is usually blue, so the yellow shows that the gas is not burning off entirely and that the CO produced is not vented as required.

  • Rusted Flue

A rusted flue is another potential indicator of a poorly ventilated furnace. This could result from a leak in the roof or plumbing lines. This would lead to CO gas sneaking into your home, which is perilous. You can prevent this through effective flue maintenance to help it last longer.

  • Spiking Utility Bills

While several issues would lead to increased utility bills in your home, a struggling furnace will not help. Check your furnace filter to see if it’s clean to ensure it has proper airflow. If it is poorly ventilated, it will work harder than usual, even in moderate situations, leading to an increase in the bills.

  • Water Leaks

A poorly ventilated furnace will result in water leaks. Water is a natural by-product of a gas furnace or a functional air conditioner.

First, determine the source of the leak. If you only notice it around your air conditioner, it could result from a leak or clog in the condensate line. This is a serious issue if it comes from the furnace or is produced during the heating cycle. It demands the attention of an expert!

  • Constant Thermostat Tweaking

If you notice you need to keep adjusting the thermostat to find a comfortable temperature, it could be because the furnace is not venting as required. Your thermostat could have lost its ability to keep up with the demands of heating your home. You will need to call a tech ASAP.

  • Repeat Service Calls

Calling in tech to service and maintain your furnace is typical. However, with poorly ventilated furnaces, you will have to call them in severally to handle serious issues associated with a malfunctioning furnace.

  • Cold Spots

You will notice some rooms in the house are colder than others. This usually signifies that your furnace is not heating enough to maintain an even warmth throughout your house.

It could also mean the furnace cannot maintain the push/pull of the vent system to circulate the warm air. A poorly ventilated furnace will also reflect through cold spots in the house.

  • Eerie Silences

It’s not uncommon for furnaces to make noises as they operate. However, if the heating cycle is accompanied by an increased shake, rattle, and roll, do not ignore it!

It could be a sign of malfunctioning mechanical elements. If these sounds stop abruptly and create noticeable silence periods, this indicates a more serious problem lurking. It would be 

How Far Should Carbon Monoxide Detector Be from Furnace

A carbon monoxide detector is an excellent safety necessity in your home. Install it at least five to twenty feet away from a furnace to avoid triggers of false alarms.

Also, there is no harm in sleeping in a room with a furnace as long as the room is big enough and the installation is a direct vent.

Do you have any questions on home safety? Did you learn something new from the article? Let us know in the comments!

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