29 Apr

Why Buy A Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Why Buy A Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Not to be confused with smoke alarms, a carbon monoxide detector is a whole different animal. Do you need one? Probably. Let me explain:

First, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas. It is given off by appliances such as wood-burning fireplaces, gas stoves, water heaters, and other devices that create combustion fumes. Carbon monoxide can accumulate in spaces that are contained and not well-ventilated. When carbon monoxide, or CO, accumulates in these spaces, the danger increases. For example, your garage. If you left your car running with your garage door closed, eventually the oxygen will be replaced by carbon monoxide. For humans, this is bad. Very, very bad. According to the CDC, between 1999 and 2010, 5,149 carbon monoxide deaths occurred, averaging 430 per year.

In Oregon, all new residential buildings are required to have a carbon monoxide detector. However, older buildings are a different story. Make sure you protect yourself and your loved ones, including your pets!

The Biggest Culprits

The most common sources of carbon monoxide in homes are gas-burning, wood-burning, propane or oil-burning appliances. So, your water heater, fireplace, (gas or wood-burning) gas grill, furnace, gas stoves, and space heaters. So, a bunch of things, right? One way to help prevent an increase in carbon monoxide being generated in your home is to make sure all of these are properly ventilated. Oxygen is the natural enemy of carbon monoxide.

What To Look For When Buying a Carbon Monoxide Detector

  1.  Very Loud Audio Alarm – The sound it makes should be practically ear piercing. Otherwise, you run the risk of sleeping through it or not hearing it over the sounds of your television or stereo. The detector should be UL listed and have a minimum 85 dbl horn.
  2. Five Year Sensor Warranty – Sensors can wear down over time, so make certain that the unit you purchase is going to last you a long time and work.
  3. Interconnected Units – Having a carbon monoxide detector installed in a variety of areas of your house increases your safety. Look into units that can go off at the same time – when one trips, the others trip, too.
  4. Testing Functionality – We recommend testing once a month. A CO detector unit should have a test/silence button. The silence button will help you turn it off in case of a false alarm.
  5. Hardwired vs. Battery – Both have advantages and disadvantages, do your homework before setting out to buy a unit. A hardwired unit should also have a battery backup.

Bonus tip: Houseplants can absorb carbon monoxide and improve your indoor air quality. Best bets? Spider plant, peace lily, dracaena, bamboo palm.

Stay Safe Out There

Your safety is important to us. Whenever you are having trouble with electricity or your electrical appliances, call us. We can answer your questions and guide you to the right products for your needs. We’re your Portland, Oregon Electrician! 503-643-8833.

About Karen Mares

A Portlander born and raised, Karen lives in Southwest Portland with her husband and children. Karen has kept journals throughout her life, and she began her personal blog, Random Thoughts From A Suburban Mom in 2007. She hasn't stopped writing since, channeling her passion for words and information into writing and communicating through social media and blogging.