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Security Basics

Carbon Monoxide Detection: What You Need to Know

Posted February 4, 2020 by Cove

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Our homes are our where we live the majority of our lives. We spend 60% of our time in our homes. They are where we can enjoy ourselves with our friends and family, or chill out watching Netflix by ourselves.

At their most basic level, though, homes are places of safety and security. That's why it's essential that you protect yourself and your family from dangerous carbon monoxide levels with an alarm system or sensor that is easy-to-use and effective. You should make sure you know what it means when your carbon monoxide detector is going off.

What is carbon monoxide, and why is carbon monoxide exposure bad for you? Carbon Monoxide (CO) is a highly toxic gas that is colorless, odorless, and produced each time a fossil fuel such as gasoline, natural gas, or coal is burned. Fossil fuels contain high levels of carbon, and when they are burned in a process called incomplete combustion, the carbon reacts with oxygen in the air to form carbon monoxide gas.

Many homes have heating and cooling elements, such as a furnace or a water heater, that are powered by fossil fuels, and thus, carbon monoxide gas can be emitted in these homes. Usually, the levels of CO emission remain low enough not to be dangerous with proper ventilation.

When a human comes into contact with too much carbon monoxide gas (otherwise referred to as carbon monoxide poisoning), the symptoms can include the following:

  • Nausea or stomach pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Fainting

The Mayo Clinic recommends that if you have been exposed to too much carbon monoxide gas you should immediately seek fresh air and medical help. Lengthy exposure to CO can result in brain damage.

Yellow Natural Gas Pipe Lever

Preventative Measures: CO Detection

With the correct preventative measures, you will be able to minimize your exposure to carbon monoxide. This is where carbon monoxide detection comes in.

Carbon monoxide detectors measure CO levels in the air within your home over time. When the accumulation of the gas gets close to dangerous levels, the alarm sounds, letting you know it's time to get to fresh air and call someone to check your house for possible sources of carbon monoxide that would produce the levels that could trigger your sensor.

Carbon monoxide detectors generally look similar to smoke detectors, but don't get these confused! They perform different functions. Smoke and CO are different things and require different kinds of sensors. Although some combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are produced, this is not a standard feature, so you should make sure to keep both kinds of sensors in your home.

Most carbon monoxide alarm batteries should be replaced at least once every 3 years, although these alarms have a battery life of 5 or more years. It is recommended that you install an alarm in your bedroom, as well as near any other parts of your home that serve as sleeping areas.

Smoke detector

Carbon Monoxide Detector Beeping, What Should You Do?

If your CO alarm goes off, it could be for a number of reasons. The most problematic reason is that of a carbon monoxide leak. If this is the case, you should contact someone to have the leak fixed and move to fresh air immediately.

Your alarm may also begin beeping every 30 seconds or so if the battery is starting to get low. If this is the case, you should change the battery as soon as possible to protect yourself and your family. If you change the battery and the alarm stops beeping, your alarm should be working fine, but you can press the test button to ensure that the new battery is working properly. If you change the battery and the alarm sounds, that may mean that the battery has been inserted incorrectly.

Another possible reason that your carbon monoxide detector could be going off is the environment in which it is installed. If it has been installed in an area too close to a draft or a window, it could begin to measure not just the levels of carbon monoxide within your home, but falsely read the outside environment. False alarms such as this can be annoying, so make sure your carbon monoxide alarm is installed in an area where it will not be contaminated by outside factors.

These are the most common reasons your CO alarm could be beeping. One final reason is that your CO detector may need to be replaced. Usually, if this is the case, the alarm will sound in a distinct pattern of repetitive beeps followed by a pause.

Cove recommends that you install a CO alarm in the following areas: Directly outside the boiler rooms Within 10 feet of all sleeping areas

Cove also suggests avoiding installation in the following areas:

  • Behind curtains
  • In particularly dirty areas that may clog the sensor
  • Outside your home
  • Near windows
  • Within reach of children or anywhere, it could easily be accidentally damaged.

If your CO alarm is installed correctly, it should effectively protect you from problems with CO poisoning. It’s great to be able to go to sleep at night with the knowledge that you and your family are safe, isn’t it?

Smoke Detection: A Brief Reminder

So now that you’re an expert on carbon monoxide detectors, it’s probably time to check your smoke detector as well. You want to make sure your batteries are working there too! And if you need to replace your smoke detector, click here.

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