7 Things to Know About Carbon Monoxide Alarms

7 Things to Know About Carbon Monoxide

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 can be very dangerous and deadly. The carbon monoxide detector is a safety device that can alert homeowners of a CO leak and help them escape a potentially life-threatening situation, like carbon monoxide poisoning.

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

1. What does a carbon monoxide detector 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 detectors can provide you and your family the advanced warning necessary to escape your home during an emergency.

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 a CO leak that could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

3. Where do you install carbon monoxide detectors?

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

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

Carbon monoxide detectors 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 does it mean if my carbon monoxide alarm is beeping? 

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. Refer to your alarm's user manual for your specific model.

  • 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 detector 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 carbon monoxide alarm.

6. How to test to ensure your CO alarms are working properly? 

It is important to test your detectors monthly to ensure they are working properly. To test your CO alarms, press and hold the test button on the alarm. The alarm will sound 4 beeps, a pause, then 4 beeps for 5-6 seconds. Refer to the user manual for your specific model. If the alarm does not test properly, install fresh batteries, make sure the batteries are installed correctly, be sure the alarm is clean and dust-free, and then test the detector again. If it still does not test properly, replace the CO alarm immediately.

7. How often should you replace your CO detectors?

If your carbon monoxide detector has replaceable batteries, they should be changed at least every 6 months. Although you replace the batteries, carbon monoxide alarms don’t last forever. They have a lifetime of 5 to 7 years, but it is important to refer to your user manual. After 5 to 7 years, replace the CO alarm completely.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms