Installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home is basic for your family’s safety if you have any type of combustible appliance, such as a gas-powered clothes dryer, furnace, range or water heater. But those detectors won’t do you much good if they’re not working right. Make it standard practice to test your detectors at least once a year.

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Safety

Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that is almost impossible to detect without a monitor. Odorless, tasteless and invisible, it can cause sickness even at low levels. Symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, disorientation and confusion. You should install at least one detector per floor of your home, and they should be at least 10 feet away from any CO-generating appliances.

Testing CO Detectors

CO detectors are powered either by batteries or they may be hardwired into your electrical system. Check them by pressing the test button. If the alarm sounds, the device is working. If not, then replace the batteries or the entire unit. It’s a good idea to change the batteries every six months (hard-wired units will have backup batteries).

At least one of your CO monitors should have a digital readout, as some will not sound an alarm for levels of carbon monoxide below 70 parts per million (ppm). Levels of 30 ppm may in fact be dangerous to infants and sensitive individuals. Move a lit cigarette or wand of incense close to the detector so that the display shows it is registering the carbon monoxide.

If an alarm does sound, get everyone out of the house. Never ignore the alarm or presume it is a malfunction. Open windows near the alarm, and notify 911.

Other Safety Tips

Tips to remember:

  • Never operate a gas-powered generator indoors.
  • Do not run a vehicle in an attached garage.
  • When using a gas grill, make sure it’s in an open area, and that fumes aren’t wafting into the home.

For more information on carbon monoxide detectors, contact Stack Heating, Cooling, Plumbing and Electric. We’ve served Greater Cleveland since 1976.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about carbon monoxide detectors and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Grzegorz Petrykowski/Shutterstock”

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