Indoor air quality is an important aspect of any HVAC system. However, maintaining indoor air quality extends far beyond removing irritants such as dust and allergens from the air. In fact, it’s often the particles you can’t see, smell, or taste that are the most dangerous, if not fatal.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and highly toxic gas that can seep into our homes from various sources, such as gas appliances, heating systems, and generators. Unfortunately, many people are not aware of the dangers of this gas and its potential to cause serious health problems, including death.
At Baggett Heating & Cooling, we believe that every homeowner should install a carbon monoxide detector in their home. In this blog, we’ll discuss the benefits of having a CO detector, including how it can potentially save your life and the lives of your loved ones.
What Is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide (CO) is found in fumes produced any time you burn fuel in cars or trucks, small engines, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas cooking ranges, or furnaces. Commonly referred to as a silent killer, this colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas is the byproduct of the process that produces heat in your furnace.
When drawn safely away from your home, carbon monoxide poses no danger. However, if the system malfunctions and begins filling your home with carbon monoxide, the threat becomes very real. Carbon monoxide can build up indoors and poison people and animals who breathe it.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 430 deaths and 20,000 emergency room visits are caused by unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning each year. Breathing in a lot of CO can make you pass out or kill you. People who are sleeping or drunk can die from CO poisoning before they even experience symptoms.
Symptoms of CO poisoning include:
- Upset stomach
- Chest pain
How Do Carbon Monoxide Detectors Work?
Carbon monoxide is undetectable by humans – this is precisely why it is essential to install carbon monoxide detectors in your home. These detectors work by detecting the presence of carbon monoxide gas in the air.
The sensor inside the detector, called an electrochemical sensor, is designed to detect even the smallest amount of carbon monoxide gas in the air to alert the occupants of the house. The sensor inside the detector has an electrode coated with a special substance that triggers a chemical reaction when carbon monoxide gas is present.
This chemical reaction produces an electrical signal which is then sent to a processor inside the detector. If the processor determines that the concentration of carbon monoxide gas is high enough to be dangerous, it triggers an alarm to alert the occupants of the house.
Types of Carbon Monoxide Detectors
There are various types of carbon monoxide detectors available in the market, and each one has its unique features.
- Plug-in carbon monoxide detectors: Plug-in carbon monoxide detectors are easy to install and use. They are plugged directly into a wall outlet and have a battery backup. They are ideal for those individuals who want a hassle-free installation process.
- Battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors: Battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors run on batteries and can be placed throughout your home. They are compact and portable, making them easy to move around as needed. They are perfect for those who do not have access to a wall outlet near the carbon monoxide detector, but you must be sure to replace the batteries regularly.
- Hardwired carbon monoxide detectors: Hardwired carbon monoxide detectors are connected to your home’s electrical system and have a battery backup to run the unit in the event of a power outage. They require professional installation but are more reliable than plug-in and battery-powered detectors.
- Combination smoke alarms and CO alarms: These CO alarms not only detect carbon monoxide but also work as smoke alarms. This dual function makes them a popular choice for households that want to have two detectors in one. They are easy to install, operate, and maintain.
Benefits of Installing Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Here are some of the critical benefits carbon monoxide detectors provide and how they can help keep you and your loved ones safe.
Early Detection of Carbon Monoxide
The primary benefit of installing a carbon monoxide detector is that it can detect the presence of carbon monoxide in your home before it becomes a harmful threat. These detectors work by sounding an alarm when they detect a certain level of carbon monoxide in the air. This, in turn, allows you to take appropriate action to protect yourself and your family.
Protect Your Family
Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal, and this is why it is essential to protect your family from its harmful effects. By installing a carbon monoxide detector, you can ensure the safety and security of everyone in the home. You can also rest assured that your family will not be exposed to any harmful gasses that can cause severe illness or even death.
Peace of Mind
Lastly, installing a carbon monoxide detector can provide you with peace of mind. Knowing that you have taken steps to protect your family and your home from carbon monoxide poisoning can give you a sense of security and comfort. You can rest easy knowing that your family is safe and secure in their own home.
Low-Level CO Monitors
While carbon monoxide detectors are excellent for alerting you when there is a sudden, high level of carbon monoxide in your home, they’re unable to detect lower levels that can still be deadly. Prolonged exposure to constant low levels of carbon monoxide can be just as dangerous as being exposed to a high level of this toxic gas for a short period. This is why low-level CO monitors are important, too!
Low-level CO monitors are different from carbon monoxide detectors in that they actively monitor the amount of carbon monoxide in the air in real-time. They can let you know when there is an unsafe amount of carbon monoxide in the air before the CO detector can sound an alarm.
Carbon monoxide is measured in a ratio called parts per million (PPM). A reading of 0.5 to 5.5 ppm is within the normal range for homes without gas appliances, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
On average, carbon monoxide detectors only begin to sound an alarm at 70 ppm after an hour or more, depending on the model. While some people may not experience any significant symptoms after being exposed to this level for short periods, long-term exposure (6 to 8 hours) can cause disorientation, dizziness, and weakness. Those with heart problems may experience chest pain.
Low-level CO monitors sound alarms for much lower carbon monoxide levels, and they do so much sooner than standard CO detectors. Depending on the model, a low-level CO monitor will sound an alarm to alert you of carbon monoxide levels down to around 25ppm. The alarm will sound after CO levels are detected for just 60 seconds!
Professional Carbon Monoxide Detector Installation
Installing a CO detector in your home is one of the most effective ways to protect yourself and your loved ones from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. Baggett Heating & Cooling provides a range of reliable CO detectors that are designed to detect even low levels of CO in the air and alert you in case of danger. Contact us today to have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home.