CO400 carbon monoxide alarm mounted on wall next child's drawing

6 Things to Know About Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Let’s start at the source. What is carbon monoxide? Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is poisonous to humans. It is known as the “silent killer” because humans cannot tell when they are around it, but it is very dangerous and deadly. The carbon monoxide detector is a device that can alert homeowners of a CO leak and escape a potentially life threatening situation.

When considering purchasing and installing CO alarms there are a few things you should know beforehand:

1. What does a carbon monoxide alarm do? 

Carbon monoxide alarms detect the poisonous gas and provide early warning. In the event of a carbon monoxide leak, it is critical that you get to fresh air as soon as possible. Every second counts, and First Alert CO alarms can provide you and your family the advanced warning necessary to escape your home during an emergency.

Carbon Monoxide Reader
Sources of CO

2. What are the main sources of carbon monoxide leaks?

Carbon monoxide can be produced by any fuel-burning device. Three main sources are your home’s furnace, dryer vent in a drying machine, and fireplace or chimney. It is important to have these sources regularly serviced and cleaned by a professional to help prevent any issues.

3. What level of your house should you have carbon monoxide alarms on?

It is important to have CO alarms on every level of your house so all family members can hear and be alerted to the emergency. You should also have them in every bedroom, sleeping area, and common room for extra safety while you and your family are sleeping.

Plug In Carbon Monoxide Detector
combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm

4. Where should carbon monoxide alarms be placed in each room?

Carbon monoxide alarms can be placed anywhere in the room. Contrary to popular belief that CO is heavier than air, CO alarms can be placed on the wall or the ceiling and will be just as effective.

5. What do the alarms different beeps mean? 

The alarm has different beep patterns to communicate whether there is an emergency or simply a need to replace. It is important to know the difference between the beeps.

  • 4 beeps and a pause: This means that there is carbon monoxide in the air and you should seek fresh air immediately and call 9-1-1.
  • 1 beep every minute: This means that the alarm has low batteries and you should replace them.
  • 5 beeps every minute: This means your alarm has reached the end of its life and needs to be replaced with a new alarm.

6. How often should you test and replace your CO alarms to make sure they are working?

It is important to test your alarms regularly, but it is best to test at least monthly. If your alarm has replaceable batteries they should be changed at least every 6 months. Although you replace your batteries, carbon monoxide alarms don’t last forever. They have a lifetime of anywhere between 5 to 7 years, but it is important to check the specific product for lifetime.

battery operated carbon monoxide detector

To learn more about carbon monoxide safety click here.