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Carbon Monoxide Detection Alarms: The Use and Care of Your CO Alarm

By Edited Mar 18, 2016 0 0

Your best prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning.

According to the United States Fire Administration, carbon monoxide poisoning “claims more than 400 lives and sends another 20,000 people to hospital” every year. Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in a home or building cannot be detected by sight or smell, making carbon monoxide detection alarms the only warning system available. The concern over this gas has even led the state of California to require by law that all homes install a carbon monoxide monitor. You need to do more than just have a CO alarm to alert you to a buildup of CO however, you also need to keep it in good working condition and place it properly. Even the best home carbon monoxide detector will not protect you from this silent killer if you do not use and care for it properly.

Where to Mount the Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Place several detectors in your home. The U.S. Fire Administration recommends placing one CO detector inside or near every bedroom in the house. You should also have at least one  installed on every floor of your home. Also, because CO gas is heavier than air, it accumulates from the ground up. CO detectors placement should be lo

Carbon Monoxide Detection
w to the ground and not at ceiling level like a fire smoke detector.

How to Test

Push the test button on your CO detector once a week. After pushing the button, the alarm will give a short sound to let you know that it is in good working order. If the alarm does not sound, then the alarm is malfunctioning or needs new batteries.

Clean Regularly

Use a vacuum with the brush attachment on the exterior of your monitor once a month to remove any dust and pet hairs that can interfere with its function. If you have a plug-in alarm, remove the CO alarm from its electrical outlet prior to vacuuming. User manuals usually recommend against using any cleaners on the alarm.

Replacing the Batteries

Wondering why your CO monitor keeps going off? You probably need to replace the batteries. Replace the battery every six months and anytime the low battery sensor lights up or the alarm sounds intermittently. If your CO detector is beeping intermittently, it probably needs new batteries.   

Replacing the CO Detection Alarm

Buy and install a new carbon monoxide alarm in three to seven years per the recommendations of the manufacturer of that alarm. These alarms do not last forever. Different ones will have different recommendations on when that unit should be replaced.


Do not put the  CO monitor too close to garbage cans, diaper pails, appliances, cooking areas or other places that will have normal amounts of gas emissions. Putting it too close to these locations could trigger the alarm to sound even without dangerous levels of CO gas in the air.

What to Do if Your CO Alarm Goes Off?

First get everyone outside into fresh air. From a cell phone or a neighbor's house call the fire department to have everyong examined for symptoms fo CO poisoning. Next call your local utility company to have your home inspected for gas leaks. 

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  1. "The Dangers of Carbon Monoxide." U.S. Fire Administration: Exposing an Invisible Killer. 24/04/2013 <Web >
  2. "Keeping it Safe: Home and Personal Safety, Fire Extinguishers, Smoke Detectors, Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, Carbon Monoxide Detectors." University of Florida. 24/04/2013 <Web >

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