7 Things to Know About Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Let’s start at the source. What is Carbon Monoxide? Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the “silent killer” because it is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is poisonous to humans. 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 in your home 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 help provide an 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 help provide you and your family with the advanced warning necessary to escape your home during an emergency.

2. What are the main sources of carbon monoxide in a home?

Carbon monoxide can be produced by any fuel-burning device. The three main sources in a home are the furnace, dryer vent in a drying machine, and fireplace or chimney. It is important to have these appliances regularly serviced and cleaned by a professional to help prevent a CO leak that could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.

3. Where should you install carbon monoxide detectors?

Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on every level of your home so all family members can hear the alarms and be alerted to the emergency. You should also have carbon monoxide detectors in every bedroom and outside each sleeping area.

4. Where should you place carbon monoxide detectors 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. Why is my carbon monoxide detector beeping?

A carbon monoxide alarm has different beep patterns to communicate whether there is an emergency or simply a need to replace the detector. It is important to know the difference between the beeps or chirps. 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 your carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly?

To test your carbon monoxide detectors, press and hold the test button on the alarm. The detector 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 detector immediately. It is important to test your CO detectors monthly to ensure they are working properly.

7. How often should carbon monoxide detectors be replaced?

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.

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