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, but it can cause unconsciousness, brain damage or death. Because of this, more than 400 people die of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning each year, a higher 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. These situations are when the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning 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 comes from and how to make the most of your CO alarms.
Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of incomplete combustion. Therefore, this gas is produced when a fuel source burns, like 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. Instead, they sound an alarm when they sense a certain level of smoke generated by a fire. Having reliable smoke detectors reduces the risk of dying in a house fire by about 55 percent.
Smoke detectors come in two primary modes—ionization detectors and photoelectric detectors. Ionization detection works best with fast-moving fires that generate large flames, while photoelectric detectors are 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.
Unmistakably, smoke detectors and CO alarms are equally important home safety devices. If you look up at the ceiling and see an alarm of some kind, you may not realize whether it’s a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide alarm. The visual difference depends on the brand and model you have. Here are some factors to remember:
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 testing once a month and resetting to ensure proper functionality. Also, replace the batteries in battery-powered units every six months. For hardwired units, replace the backup battery every year or when the alarm starts chirping, whichever comes 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 sensor. Check the instruction manual for directions specific to your unit, knowing that testing follows this general procedure:
Change the batteries if the unit fails to perform as expected after the test. If replacement batteries don’t change anything, replace the detector immediately.
You’re only required 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 should note which function applies.
Follow these steps to reset your CO detector manually:
If you don’t hear a beep or see a flash, attempt the reset again or replace the batteries. If it’s still not working, troubleshoot your carbon monoxide alarm with help from the manufacturer, or replace the detector.
Use 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 important to maintain your fuel-burning appliances, particularly as winter gets underway.
The team at Comfortech 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 possible carbon monoxide leak— such as excessive soot, rusted flue pipes and a yellow, flickering burner flame—along with the necessary repairs to resolve them.
By Brian Sodoma, for Service Experts With autumn coming soon, homeowners will soon be planning for the winter weather ahead. Cold weather adds even more demand on your heating and cooling system. To prepare your heating unit for the heavy work it will soon be taking on, scheduled HVAC... Continue reading
When you hear the phrase ultraviolet light, you might think of getting sunburned after a long day at the pool. Having said that, UV light is also a tool for increasing indoor air quality. Sunscreen defends against UVA and UVB rays, but UVC is the type of light used in air purification. If you deal... Continue reading
Indoor allergens affect millions of people in the U.S. each year. It’s common for many to look outside the home for potential allergens triggering sniffles, watery eyes, respiratory problems and even asthma flare-ups. But many are surprised to learn that indoor dust mites, molds, animal dander... Continue reading
© 2023 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.