Carbon Monoxide Detectors: A Brief Guide

Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless and colorless gas. It is produced primarily by fuel-burning appliances, including furnaces, water heaters, stoves, and generators. When CO is inhaled, it takes the place of oxygen in the blood, which can quickly lead to tissue damage and even death. Thus, carbon monoxide detectors are an important tool that can help you prevent CO poisoning in your Smyrna home.

carbon monoxide detector on the ceiling wall

Carbon Monoxide Detector Basics

CO detectors are small devices that are similar to smoke detectors. These devices continually monitor the amount of carbon monoxide in the air and sound an alert if the concentration becomes too high. Carbon monoxide detectors may be wired into a central system or installed as standalone devices anywhere in your home. However, all carbon monoxide detectors should have a battery backup—you should change the batteries at least once a year, as well as test the devices using their test function annually. Additionally, carbon monoxide detectors have a limited lifespan and should be replaced after approximately seven to ten years, depending on the product’s specifications.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Placement

Your family is most vulnerable to carbon monoxide while sleeping. Carbon monoxide detectors should be placed in hallways immediately adjacent to every bedroom or sleeping area in your home. Detectors should not be placed near the ceiling, but at waist- or knee-level to approximate the height of your airway above the ground while sleeping. Additionally, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed near any fuel-burning appliance in your home, including your furnace and water heater if they consume gas or oil. The best way to ensure your family is safe is to use a network of CO detectors in areas with appliances, as well as sleeping areas, to provide full coverage.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Although your carbon monoxide detectors are designed to sound well before the levels of CO in your home rise too high, these devices are no substitute for taking positive steps to prevent CO poisoning. Have your HVAC system serviced one to two times per year to ensure it is clean and connected properly, as dirty burners and venting leaks are some of the most common causes of CO leakage into the home. Additionally, have your plumber check your water heater’s burner system once a year for the same reason. You should never try to clean the burners of your fuel-burning appliances yourself, as improper handling can also cause CO overproduction and leakage. Your HVAC service will be able to tell you which maintenance and cleaning tasks you can perform yourself, and which should be left to a professional for convenience and safety. If you experience heating problems, it’s also important to have a professional service your heating system as soon as possible—never try to heat your home without your furnace by using a gas stove, charcoal grill, or propane heater.

Our HVAC service technicians in Smyrna can help you maintain a healthy and fuel-efficient home with carbon monoxide detector installation and HVAC system and water heater maintenance and repairs. You can learn more about your home’s fuel-burning appliances and how to use them properly when you click through our blog, or contact a service technician for help and advice on our website.

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