Carbon monoxide detectors play a crucial role in protecting your home and your family from the otherwise undetectable dangers of this deadly gas. Even small buildups of carbon monoxide in your home can have potentially lethal effects, posing hazards to your short-term and long-term health and, in extreme cases, even causing death. There’s a reason carbon monoxide gas is known as the “silent killer;” many people never know they have a problem until it’s too late.
While taking the step to purchase and install carbon monoxide detectors is important and commendable, you need to be careful where you mount them to make sure they are delivering accurate readings. If they are incorrectly placed, they may signal problems when none are present or fail to detect problems when you have legitimate cause for concern.
One thing you will want to avoid is mounting carbon monoxide detectors close to the ground. Despite the fact that some manufacturers actually recommend that you place the unit near the floor, the actual fact of the matter is that carbon monoxide is lighter than the air around us and therefore rises as it builds up. Thus, mounting the unit at a higher position makes more sense from a physics standpoint.
You should also avoid mounting carbon monoxide detectors near your furnace, as your furnace can emit a trace amount of this gas when it starts up. This is not a problem, so long as the room where your furnace is located has proper ventilation. However, it can trigger false alarms, as the detector will pick up the presence of carbon monoxide and go off.
Carbon monoxide detectors also don’t perform optimally when they are placed in areas where humidity collects, so bathrooms and laundry rooms are not a very good choice. Exposure to high levels of humidity adversely affects the working parts of these detectors. It is also recommended that you avoid mounting detection units within about 15 to 20 feet of your stove and any other heat-generating appliances which you use, as this can also trigger false alarms.
There are different types of carbon monoxide monitors varying in sensitivity, information provided and cost. The right style for you will be covered in future blog posts. Finally, whatever type of monitor you buy, remember to mark the inside case with the date of original service. All these devices have a life expectancy (smoke detecters too) which generally spans 5-7 years. It is easy to forget their age and have them lapse into ineffectiveness as they age. You don’t want to be in the position of have a false sense of security with an outdated monitor. Check with the manufacturer for the recommended replacement schedule for your monitor.
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