Accumulated exposure to carbon monoxide can lead to death and CO detectors can give early warning of carbon monoxide production in the home. These days these are several types of detector available in the local shops. Carbon monoxide detectors trigger an alarm based on an accumulation of carbon monoxide over time. Carbon monoxide detector technology can not be relied upon to the same level as that in smoke detectors at this time but the gap is being closed. You should always ensure you have a proper maintenance schedule for your appliances, having a carbon monoxide detector does not enable you to save on regular appliance servicing.

What are the main CO detector features?

Good quality carbon monoxide detectors have a loud alarm and are certified to British Standards. You will need to evacuate the room quickly if levels of carbon monoxide rise and you don’t want to have to keep checking the battery condition. As a result buy a detector with an audible, ear piercing alarm and a long battery life (aim for 5 years). If you have a choice pay more to get the battery powered electronic detectors rather than chemical based models using chemical reactions and colour changes to show an alarm as these may not be noticed in time. Chemical CO detectors loose their effectiveness after 6 months and have to be changed, this increases the lifetime cost and puts you at risk if you forget to change the detector when it has expired. Most importantly the lack of an audible alarm means that this type of detector will not wake you is there is an excess of carbon monoxide produced when you are asleep at night. Carbon Monoxide detectors are now readily available in the high street being stocked by many types of stores.

The benefits of installing a Carbon Monoxide detector

Early warning of heightened CO levels provided by installing a carbon monoxide detector can ensure that fatalities do not occur. Properly installed detectors monitor carbon monoxide levels over time and are designed to sound an alarm before an average, healthy adult would experience symptoms of poisoning. Whilst smoke detectors need to be installed high on the wall or near the ceiling a carbon monoxide detector can be installed lower down. Make sure that you will be woken should your carbon monoxide detector go off whilst you are asleep. Install the alarm near your sleeping areas.

Carbon Monoxide detectors should be regularly tested

Make a note to test your detector on a regular basis to ensure it is working. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for guidance on how the detector should be tested. Detectors should be tested monthly and replaced if problems are found. Do not assume that any ‘test’ button tests the detector, often this functionality only checks the battery and the audible alarm. Many detectors have a limited lifetime, this can be 48 months or less. Some detectors last up to 5 years and operate off the mains or battery. You will need to select a model that meets your needs. There are combined detectors sold which combine smoke and carbon monoxide detectors within the same case. These may have specific installation instructions as advised by the manufacturer and you should pay particular attention as to how these should be installed

Carbon Monoxide

Leaving no smell and having no taste Carbon Monoxide is very dangerous and toxic. This gas can be produced when a boiler is operating with too little oxygen supply provided to the combustion chamber. Properly balanced ventilation will result in Carbon Dioxide output, Carbon Monoxide will result if the level of oxygen is restricted with reduced airflow or a blocked flue. With high standards of boiler servicing and strict ventilation regulations the number of people killed by Carbon Monoxide has reduced to 30 people each year although many more are seriously injured.

What will Carbon Monoxide Poisoning result in?

Carbon monoxide is poisonous so you should be very careful. Symptoms can be similar to other illnesses so act quickly if you have any doubts. Be decisive and look after your household straight away. Any member of the family can be affected by carbon monoxide regardless of their age. Pets can also be impacted.

Does carbon monoxide poisoning exhibit any symptoms?

You may observe common flu like symptoms in someone who is actually suffering from Carbon Monoxide inhalation with features like: –
* headaches which occur daily
* instability
* loss of energy
* urge to vomit

If you notice symptoms such as these when you have gas appliances in the home, stop using the appliance without delay, increase ventilation to the rooms, take any inhabitants outside and ensure that your gas appliances are inspected by a CORGI registered gas engineer.

Tell me how to reduce the chances of Carbon Monoxide related illness.

Bad ventilation resulting in lack of oxygen leads to the production of poisonous carbon monoxide. Assuming that a ventilation audit of your proposed installation was completed before your boiler was fitted the best defence to this is the regular and expert servicing of any gas appliances that you have including your boiler. Any engineer you contract to service your gas appliances should be CORGI-registered which will ensure that they have the training required to complete the task to the required standards. Fitting a carbon monoxide detector with an audible alarm is also a valuable investment to provide early warning of potential carbon monoxide poisoning. You should also keep air vents in doors, walls or windows clear – never cover them up to prevent draughts. Also regularly inspect for plants which might be growing near a vent outside as over the course of a year they can also block them. Chimney ventilation can become obstructed in the summer by a birds nest and you may not notice id a fire is not used in the summer so a visual inspection should be incorporated in your home maintenance plans. Know the difference between the sound of smoke alarms and CO alarms. If the CO detector alarm goes off make sure it is your CO detector and not your smoke detector.

Can I look at my gas appliances to see if carbon monoxide could be a problem?

Carbon Dioxide production is often a result of incomplete combustion and this can be seen as the deposit of soot discolouring surfaces near your gas appliances. Inspecting gas pilot lights can give early warning of a lack of oxygen in the boiler as the colour of the pilot light may change from blue to yellow. You should call in a trained engineer to maintain your heating system if you notice that the pilot light starts to burn with a yellow light.

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