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Finding the right carbon monoxide detector

More than 400 people die in the United State each year from carbon monoxide poisoning. Another 20,000 are sent to the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized because of carbon monoxide poisoning. The colorless, odorless gas is a byproduct of combustion, meaning that if you have a gas-powered furnace, hot water heater or stove, or any type of fireplace in your home, there is a risk that your family could be exposed to carbon monoxide.

Choosing a carbon monoxide detector

carbon monoxide detector installation bon air vaThere are three general types of carbon monoxide detectors: Hard-wired carbon monoxide detectors, battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors and plug-in carbon monoxide detectors. Hard-wired carbon monoxide detectors wire straight to your home’s electrical system. One of the biggest advantages to hard-wired detectors is that they will communicate with each other, meaning if one detector goes off, all of the detectors will sound. Battery-operated carbon monoxide detectors attach to the wall or ceiling and work off a battery, just like a traditional smoke detector. As the name suggests, plug-in carbon monoxide detectors plug right into one of your home’s electrical outlets, allowing for easy installation.

While it can be difficult to choose from the many models, the general rule is that any carbon monoxide detector is better than no carbon monoxide detector! However, any model you choose should meet UL Standard 2034, which certified that it detects unsafe levels of carbon monoxide. Any detector that meets that standard will be clearly labeled as such on the package. If you opt for a model that runs off electricity, it should come with a battery backup so it will continue to operate during power outages.

Installing carbon monoxide detectors

You should have a carbon monoxide detector installed on each floor of your home, including the basement, and within 10 feet of bedroom doors. [http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/co-and-smoke-alarms/buying-guide.htm] No matter which carbon monoxide detector you choose, make sure to install it according to the manufacturer’s recommendation so you can be sure that it is operating correctly. Unlike smoke, carbon monoxide distributes fairly evenly throughout a room, so they do not need to be installed on ceilings like smoke detectors, though they frequently are.

Carbon monoxide detectors do lose their sensitivity over time. All carbon monoxide detectors in your home should be replaced every five years. Also, every six months, you should vacuum and test your carbon monoxide detectors, along with your smoke detectors.

Keeping your family safe from carbon monoxide

Remember, carbon monoxide is a byproduct of combustion, and combustion in an enclosed area allows carbon monoxide to build up to dangerous levels. There are several guidelines for avoiding carbon monoxide in your home:

  • Never use an outdoor heater indoors
  • Don’t use a gas range or oven for heat
  • Don’t run a generator in an enclosed area
  • Never burn charcoal indoors
  • Never use portable, flameless heaters indoors

Also, remember that carbon monoxide is related to your home-heating appliances. A dirty or blocked chimney can force carbon monoxide back into your home, making your annual chimney cleaning and inspection an important part of protecting your family from carbon monoxide poisoning. Your gas fireplace and gas or oil furnace should be cleaned and inspected annually, and your ventilation system should be checked for leaks.