A CO monitor should be installed in every home, no matter what the season. However, winter can be especially hazardous for two reasons. First, the natural gas furnace common to most residential heating systems can produce carbon monoxide gas (CO) as a combustion by-product. Second, airtight energy-efficient homes are even more closed up during cold winter weather, further increasing the hazard of toxic accumulations of CO in the event of failure of the venting system or other malfunction.
A CO monitor installed on every floor keeps your family from becoming one of the thousands who visit emergency rooms every year due to accidental exposure to carbon monoxide gas or, worse, one of the over 150 who die.
When shopping for different makes and models of a carbon monoxide monitor for your home, consider these key factors:
- Electrochemical sensors are more reliable under varying conditions of indoor temperature and humidity than metal-oxide semiconductor models. They're also non-reactive to the presence of common household cleaners that may result in false alarms with other types.
- CO monitors must be replaced approximately every 5 to 7 years as the sensing capacity diminishes with age. A CO monitor that issues an audio end-of-life alert when its sensing function declines is the safest bet.
- Because carbon monoxide monitors are electrical devices, the best will be tested and certified by Underwriter’s Laboratories. A label on the manufacturer’s box will indicate certification.
- Alarm criteria is usually listed on the box. Low level CO detectors are more expensive than the average CO detector you may find at the big box store. However, these low level CO detectors can help to detect smaller quantities of CO that, while non-lethal, over time can cause negative health effects, especially in those who may have higher sensitivites to CO such as children. Traditional CO detectors will typically only alarm once levels are approaching seriously detrimental or lethal levels and may not detect the smaller amounts of CO that can still be harmful over time.
Other features you all want to consider include:
- Backlit digital display - This makes it easy to read in any lighting condition.
- Level memory -This feature keeps a record of peak levels over recent time period, which is valuable data for fire department or emergency responders evaluating the hazard.
- Battery operation - If your locale experiences power outages or you use a gas generator to produce backup electricity, a battery-powered carbon monoxide monitor is vital.
- Voice warning -A synthesized human voice alerting residents to danger gets attention faster than the simple alarm tone.
For more on selecting the right CO monitor, contact P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling today!
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