8 Questions Answered on Carbon Monoxide Detectors & Alarms
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous, colorless gas that you can't see or smell. However, it's easy to protect your family from it by having a carbon monoxide detector installed in your home.
1. What Is a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
A carbon monoxide detector is a home protection device that resembles a smoke detector in appearance. However, these devices detect carbon monoxide gas instead of smoke or heat. It sounds an alarm to alert you when the gas reaches a critical level in your home.
2. How Do Carbon Monoxide Detectors Work?
Carbon monoxide detectors have sensors that measure the amount of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. If the sensor detects a dangerous amount of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, it emits an electronic pulse that triggers the alarm.
3. What Do I Do If I Suspect There’s a Carbon Monoxide Leak?
If someone in your home suddenly exhibits nausea, dizziness or flu-like symptoms, or the carbon monoxide alarm in your home goes off, act quickly.
- Open the doors and windows and go outside immediately until the alarm stops making noise.
- If anyone is sick, call 911 and get help right away.
- Evacuate your home and don’t let anyone go inside, except for first-responders.
- If you can safely turn off sources of gas and ventilate your home, do so.
- After taking care of immediate safety needs, have any fuel-burning appliances in your home inspected by a professional as soon as possible.
4. What Does a Carbon Monoxide Alarm Sound Like?
A carbon monoxide alarm is loud and shrill. It also emits the sounds in a repeating pattern until the level of carbon monoxide drops to a safe level. The sound pattern is typically four short beeps followed by five seconds of silence.
5. How Long Do Carbon Monoxide Detectors Last For?
Most carbon monoxide detectors last around five years. For added safety, these devices emit a chirping sound that lets you know the end of their useful life is approaching. Having numerous fuel-burning appliances in your home typically reduces the useful life of carbon monoxide detectors.
6. Where Should Carbon Monoxide Detectors Be Placed?
While it's best to follow the manufacturer's guidelines for placement, there are some general guidelines. Each of these devices is different and should be installed where the manufacturer specifies — generally no higher than five feet high, since carbon monoxide is heavier than air and won’t rise much higher than that.
Ideally, you should have one on every floor of your home. These detectors should also be mounted near bedrooms so you're able to hear the alarm if it goes off in the night.
A carbon monoxide detector should also be installed near fuel-burning appliances or an attached garage if your home is designed with one. Overall, any room that has fuel-burning appliances should have at least one carbon monoxide detector.
7. Do I Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
Not all homes need them. However, if your home has a gas stove, fireplace, furnace, or boiler room, it may be a good idea to get one. This also applies if you use a fuel-burning device like a kerosene heater or fireplace as a backup heat source.
8. How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?
The size of your home affects the ideal number of carbon monoxide detectors to install. At least one detector should be installed on each floor of your home. A carbon monoxide detector should also be installed near fuel-burning appliances and near the attached garage if your home is designed with one.