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Carbon Monoxide Detector Buying Guide

Dubbed the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas that is undetectable by humans. Carbon monoxide detectors monitor CO levels in your home and alert you when the gas reaches dangerous levels to protect you from this lethal threat.

carbon monoxide detector buying guide

About Carbon Monoxide

Carbon Monoxide comes from a number of common household sources, including wood and gas fireplaces, gas and oil furnaces, wood stoves, gas appliances, clogged chimneys and improper venting. Today’s energy efficient homes only exacerbate the accumulation of gas because their airtight construction decreases the exchange of outside and inside air. Danger increases at night when the house is tightly closed and everyone is asleep.

Know that the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can mimic the flu without the fever. So, it’s important that homeowners install alarms to monitor the level of gas in your home to avoid poisoning.

To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, maintain your utility lines and appliances. Also, make sure your home has the proper safety equipment and that house members know what the alarms sound like, how to use them and what to do in the event of alert.

Choosing a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon monoxide detectors come with a variety of features, including test buttons, silence buttons and visual indicators of the alarm.

Before you buy, research the local codes. They may specify requirements for placement and the number of units present in a home.

Dual Smoke / CO Alarms are available. Some of these units feature voice notification to identify if the threat is fire or carbon monoxide.

It’s important to choose a detector that records the levels of carbon monoxide in the air. This information can help determine the source of the problem for faster repairs.

If you opt for a hard-wired unit, make sure it has a battery back-up in the event of power outage.

Make sure you choose a model with a low-battery alert, as well as an “End of Life” warning feature to let you know when the entire unit needs to be replaced.

Installation and Placement

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and installation.

We recommended placing a carbon monoxide detector on each level of the home, including an additional unit 15-feet from the family’s sleeping area(s).

Don’t place your carbon monoxide detector directly above a fuel-burning appliance.

Good to Know

If you live in a snowy area, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace and fireplace remain clear of packed snow to stop carbon monoxide from backing up into the home.

If Your Alarm Sounds

Turn off all fuel-burning appliances in the home and open doors and windows, bringing fresh air into the house.

Move your entire family, including pets, to a safe area with fresh air. Determine if anyone is suffering from headache, dizziness, nausea, irregular breathing, confusion and/or vomiting. Dial 911 to request help.

Call a qualified appliance technician to inspect your appliances and make any necessary repairs.

DO NOT let any person or pet re-enter the home until the air is clean and all repairs are complete.

Follow manufacturer’s instructions for resetting or replacing your CO device.