Carbon monoxide (CO) is one of the most hazardous gases found in the home. Dubbed the “silent killer,” CO gas is colorless, odorless, tasteless and non-irritating, yet it can result in unconsciousness, brain damage or death. Because of this, more than 400 people die of accidental carbon monoxide exposure each year, a steeper fatality rate than any other type of poisoning.
As the weather cools off, you close up your home for the winter and trust in heating appliances to stay warm. This is when the risk of carbon monoxide inhalation is highest. The good news is you can protect your family from carbon monoxide in several ways. One of the most efficient methods is to install CO detectors in your home. Use this guide to help you understand where carbon monoxide can appear from and how to make the most of your CO alarms.
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of incomplete combustion. As a result, this gas is generated whenever a fuel source is burned, including natural gas, propane, oil, charcoal, gasoline, woo, and more. Prevalent causes of carbon monoxide in a house include:
No, smoke detectors do not detect carbon monoxide. Alternatively, they begin an alarm when they sense a certain concentration of smoke produced by a fire. Having functional smoke detectors reduces the risk of dying in a house fire by nearly 55 percent.
Smoke detectors come in two primary forms—ionization detectors and photoelectric detectors. Ionization detection functions well with fast-moving fires that emit large flames, while photoelectric detection is more effective with smoldering, smoky fires. Some newer smoke detectors include both types of alarms in a single unit to increase the chance of sensing a fire, no matter how it burns.
Clearly, smoke detectors and CO alarms are equally important home safety devices. If you check the ceiling and find an alarm of some kind, you may not realize whether it’s a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide alarm. The visual difference is determined by the brand and model you have. Here are a few factors to consider:
The number of CO alarms you need is dependent on your home’s size, the number of stories and bedroom arrangement. Follow these guidelines to provide thorough coverage:
Depending on the model, the manufacturer may suggest monthly tests and resetting to maintain proper functionality. Also, replace the batteries in battery-powered units every six months. For hardwired units, replace the backup battery once a year or when the alarm starts chirping, whichever starts first. Then, replace the CO detector entirely every 10 years or according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
It only takes a minute to test your CO detector. Check the instruction manual for directions individual to your unit, knowing that testing follows this general procedure:
Swap out the batteries if the unit fails to perform as expected during the test. If replacement batteries don’t change anything, replace the detector immediately.
You only have to reset your unit when the alarm goes off, after testing the device or after replacing the batteries. Some models automatically reset themselves within 10 minutes of these events, while others require a manual reset. The instruction manual will note which function applies.
Follow these steps to reset your CO detector manually:
If you don’t hear a beep or see a flash, start the reset again or replace the batteries. If it’s still not working, troubleshoot your carbon monoxide alarm with assistance from the manufacturer, or replace the detector.
Follow these steps to protect your home and family:
With the proper precautions, there’s no need to fear carbon monoxide exposure in your home. Along with installing CO alarms, it’s worthwhile to maintain your fuel-burning appliances, especially as winter starts.
The team at Golden Seal Service Experts is qualified to inspect, clean, diagnose and repair problems with furnaces, boilers, water heaters and other combustion appliances. We know what signs suggest a potential carbon monoxide leak— including excessive soot, rusted flue pipes and a yellow, flickering burner flame—along with the necessary repairs to resolve them.
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