Using Carbon Monoxide Detectors -- The Right Way -- To Ensure Safety

Many of the homes in the mid-Ohio area use combustible fuels for heating, cooking or drying clothes, and using carbon monoxide detectors is critical for staying safe at home. Since homes are closed up during the winter, the concentration of carbon monoxide (CO) can increase to levels that are unhealthy, or worse, fatal.

Carbon monoxide is the odorless, colorless byproduct of combustion. The only way to dependably detect it is to use CO detectors. It does have physical symptoms that may alert you to unhealthy levels, but if you're sleeping, you won't notice the headache, nausea or flu-like symptoms it creates as it builds. The elderly and very young are more susceptible, as are people who have heart problems. CO replaces oxygen in the blood, and with enough exposure can lead to death.

Positioning is a critical factor when using carbon monoxide detectors. The detectors should be placed at eye level for optimal performance, and at least 15 feet away from anything that uses fuel or creates excessive humidity. Each level of your home should have a detector, but if you have just one, place it near the master bedroom. 

It's also important to test the CO detectors at least once a month. Because of how they work, they use batteries faster than smoke detectors. If your detectors are hard-wired into your home and have back-up batteries, you should also test them to make sure they'll work in a power outage.

When you push the "test" button, the alarm should sound. If it doesn't, replace the batteries, and if that doesn't work, your detector needs replacing. Today's CO detectors last longer than the early units did, but their lifespan may only reach six years. 

If you'd like to learn more about using carbon monoxide detectors and avoiding any problems with a CO buildup this winter, please contact us at Joe Behr Plumbing & Heating. We can evaluate your heating system for safety this winter, giving you peace of mind and energy savings while extending the life of your system.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Mid-Ohio area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about using carbon monoxide detectors and other HVAC topics, visit our website.

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