Carbon monoxide (CO) is one of the most hazardous gases found in the home. Nicknamed the “silent killer,” CO gas is colorless, odorless, tasteless and non-irritating, yet it can cause unconsciousness, brain damage or death. As a result, more than 400 people die of accidental carbon monoxide influence 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 different ways. One of the most effective 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. Because of this, this gas can appear anytime a fuel source is burned, including natural gas, propane, oil, charcoal, gasoline, woo, and more. Frequent causes of carbon monoxide in a house include:
No, smoke detectors do not detect carbon monoxide. Alternatively, they sound 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 modes—ionization detectors and photoelectric detectors. Ionization detection works best with fast-growing fires that produce large flames, while photoelectric detection is more effective with smoldering, smoky fires. Some newer smoke detectors incorporate 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 both important home safety devices. If you look up at the ceiling and see an alarm of some kind, you won’t always know whether it’s a smoke detector or a carbon monoxide alarm. The visual difference depends on the brand and model you want. Here are some factors to keep in mind:
The number of CO alarms you should have depends 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 encourage monthly testing and resetting to maintain 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 instructions.
It only takes a minute to test your CO detector. Check the instruction manual for directions specific to your unit, knowing that testing practices this general procedure:
Change the batteries if the unit isn’t performing as expected for the test. If replacement batteries don’t make a difference, replace the detector immediately.
You’re only required to reset your unit once the alarm goes off, after testing the device or after changing 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.
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. Besides installing CO alarms, it’s important to maintain your fuel-burning appliances, particularly as winter gets underway.
The team at Stevenson Service Experts is qualified to inspect, clean, diagnose and repair problems with furnaces, boilers, water heaters and other combustion appliances. We know what signs could mean a possible 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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