A Guide to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Guide to Carbon Monoxide Poisoning (CO Poisoning)

CO Detectors 


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Basics of Carbon Monoxide Detector Testing

Your carbon monoxide detector plays an important role in protecting your family from a potentially fatal mishap. But in order to ensure that the detector is operating properly, homeowners are responsible for regular inspections. Carbon monoxide detector testing is straightforward, takes very little time, and should be a priority on your agenda for essential home maintenance.

Carbon Monoxide Detector TestingHow to Test your Detector
Most carbon monoxide detector models have a test button directly on the unit. Pressing this button tests the alarm as to whether or not the audible warning is operational. However, the test button will not provide you an indication of the unit’s condition.

Most hardware stores carry CO detector test kits which have a vial containing a concentrated amount of carbon monoxide (generally around 1,000 ppm), as well as a small tent that traps the gas in the immediate area. Follow the directions included in the package in order to determine whether or not your detector responds and functions properly. It is important to understand that these tests only prove that your detector will set off an alarm when an excessive level of carbon monoxide is present.

Other carbon monoxide detectors have digital displays that require testing. By holding a lit stick of incense, or another confirmed source of CO, about 20 cm (8 inches) away from the detector, you can determine whether or not the digital display is reading the presence of CO. It should slightly escalate when it detects the emission. However, the alarm will not sound during this test, but performing it will allow you to check the function of the digital display.

Regular Testing Is Necessary
Your carbon monoxide detector manual will give you the details of the testing schedule. In general, the detector’s alarm should be tried on a weekly basis by pushing the test button to ensure its function.  Thorough carbon monoxide detector testing should be done at least twice a year in order to assess the entire unit’s operation.  Many homeowners opt for testing in the Spring and Fall, although any time of the year is okay.

When to Replace your Carbon Monoxide Detector
Replacement largely depends on the type of unit that was installed, but most standard CO detectors will last approximately two years. Regular testing should be ongoing, but additional examinations should take place when the unit approaches the two-year mark.

Specific information on unit replacement schedules are usually found in the owner’s manual. Be sure to mark the installation date on the detector or attach the receipt to the manual. It will allow you to keep track of each unit’s age and operational life.  If you have any doubts about the performance or reliability of a CO detector, replace it.

The Last Word
Carrbon monoxide detectors are generally affordable and purchasing a dependable model is of utmost importance. Recent statistics note that around 170 people die in the United States every year from carbon monoxide poisoning.  Carbon monoxide detector testing is simple and takes but a few minutes. That small amount of time could save a life. If the detector is faulty, unresponsive or has reached the age of replacement, invest in a new unit and maintain the level of safety your family deserves.



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