UPDATED July 1, 2020:

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

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Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon Monoxide Detectors......
                 ......They can save your life!

What is carbon monoxide?

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning? What is a carbon monoxide detector?
Where should I install them?
What should I do if the alarm sounds?
How much do they cost?
Watch video!







What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless and toxic gas and is toxic to both pets and humans. Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell the toxic fumes, CO can kill you before you are aware it is in your home. Low levels of Carbon Monoxide will cause symptoms that mimic the flu. Usually you will experience headaches, confusion, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. . According to the Center for Disease Control carbon monoxide is the most common cause of poisoning death in the United States. Unintentional CO exposure accounts for an estimated 15,000 emergency department visits and 500 unintentional deaths in the United States each year.

Sources of Carbon Monoxide

  • Unvented kerosene or gas space heaters
  • Chimney flues and fireplaces
  • Defective furnaces
  • Oil or kerosene heaters
  • Back-drafting from furnaces
  • Gas water heaters
  • Wood stoves
  • Gas stoves
  • Generators
  • Gasoline powered equipment
  • Automobile exhaust from attached garages


signs and symptoms


point If you suspect that you have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, get fresh air immediately....don't wait!  Do not try to stay in your home for a long amount of time without getting fresh air first. At higher levels carbon monoxide can lead to a loss of consciousness, reduce brain function or you map lapse into a coma and even death. Secondly, call 911 or your local emergency number.  Carbon monoxide poisoning is serious and you will need medical attention immediately.



How can I prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

  • Make sure appliances are installed correctly according to manufacturer's instructions
  • Have heating system checked annually
  • Have chimneys and flues inspected annually for blockages, corrosion and loose connections
  • Never service fuel burning appliances without the proper knowledge
  • Never operate a portable generator in an enclosed space such as a garage or house;  even with the windows open spaces can trap lethal levels of carbon monoxide
  • Install a CO alarm that meets the requirements of the current UL 2034 safety standard
  • Never use portable fuel burning camping equipment inside a home, garage, vehicle or tent unless it is specifically designed for enclosed spaces
  • Never burn charcoal in an enclosed area
  • Never leave a vehicle running in a garage; even if the garage door is open
  • Never use gas appliances to heat your home such as ranges, ovens or clothes dryers
  • Do not cover the bottom of natural gas or propane ovens with aluminum foil. Doing so blocks the combustion air flow through the appliance and can produce CO

What is a carbon monoxide detector?
Carbon monoxide alarms are designed to alarm before potentially life-threatening levels of carbon monoxide are reached. The safety standards for CO alarms have been continually improved and currently marketed CO alarms are not as susceptible to nuisance alarms as earlier models.


Where should carbon monoxide detectors be installed?

Carbon Monoxide Placement


Follow the steps for proper installation:

  • At least one Carbon Monoxide detector alarm installation is required on every floor of the multi-story residence including basement, and within 15 feet from a sleeping area.
  • While choosing Carbon Monoxide detector alarm locations, make sure that CO detector is not closer than 5' from all fuel burning appliances or near the cooking or bathing areas. This will prevent or at least minimize possibility of false alarms.
  • Never place a Carbon Monoxide detector alarm in so called “dead space” (same as for smoke alarms). Dead space is an area that projects 4? onto the wall and ceiling from the point they’re joint together. Dead space also applies to peaks of vaulted ceiling and gable roofs.
  • Do not place a Carbon Monoxide detector alarm close to the ceiling fan, air supply vents, and doors / windows opening to exterior.
  • Do not obstruct Carbon Monoxide detector alarm with furniture or curtains
  • Do not install the alarm in areas where the temperature is below 40°F (4.4° Celsius) or hotter than 100°F (37.8° Celsius).

If you have any questions or concerns about carbon monoxide detector placement, please call us at (757) 220-6220.

What should I do if the alarm sounds?

Never ignore an alarming CO alarm! It is warning you of a potentially deadly hazard.

If the alarm signal sounds do not try to find the source of the CO:

  • Immediately move outside to fresh air
  • Call your emergency services, fire department, or 911
  • After calling 911, do a head count to check that all persons are accounted for
  • DO NOT reenter the premises until the emergency services responders have given you permission.  You could lose consciousness and die if you go in the home!
  • If the source of the CO is determined to be a malfunctioning appliance, DO NOT operate that appliance until it has been properly serviced by trained personnel

If authorities allow you to return to your home, and your alarm reactivates within a 24 hour period, repeat steps 1, 2 and 3 and call a qualified appliance technician to investigate for sources of CO from all fuel burning equipment and appliances, and inspect for proper operation of this equipment. If problems are identified during this inspection, have the equipment serviced immediately.

How much do they cost?
The devices retail for $15–$60USD and are widely available.  They can either be battery-operated or AC powered (with or without a battery backup). Battery lifetimes have been increasing as the technology has developed and certain battery powered devices now advertise a battery lifetime of over 6 years.  They can be purchased at your local hardware store and at most large department stores.  They can be purchased online as well.  It is up to the homeowner as to what model suits their lifestyle. 


Please take the time to watch this informative video on the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning: