Installing a Carbon Monoxide alarm in your home

The installation of CO alarms give a warning to people in a building of unhealthy or dangerous levels of CO before the symptoms of CO poisoning occur. Carbon monoxide alarms will sound the alarm before the concentrations of gas have reached the levels where an adult would be effected. Unlike smoke detectors, they do not need to be placed near ceiling level. You need a CO detector to wake you whilst sleeping if carbon monoxide is detected so detectors should be sited where the alarm can be heard from the bedrooms.

What features will a good alarm have?

A Carbon monoxide detector complying to the appropriate British Standards will incorporate a loud alarm. Look for a good alarm and 5 year battery life as minimum requirements in a CO detector. If you are able to 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. These are not recommended as they have a life of around six months and you must remember to replace them regularly. The ability to wake you up in the middle of the night is an important advantage that battery detectors have over the more passive chemical detectors. Carbon Monoxide detectors can now be bought from many shops.

Can I buy a carbon monoxide detector ?

CO detectors are important household aids in detecting carbon monoxide and giving early warning of potential problems. In recent years there are several types of detectors becoming available for purchase on the high street. Carbon monoxide detectors trigger an alarm based on an accumulation of carbon monoxide over time. The technology in carbon monoxide detectors is not yet as reliable as that used in smoke detectors but it is becoming more so over time. 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.

CO Detectors must be tested regularly

Your safety is dependent upon your detector so regularly check it is working correctly. CO detectors should be installed, checked and serviced in line with the manufacturer’s instructions just like your gas boiler should be checked. Detectors should be tested monthly and replaced if problems are found. Many detectors have a test button, this does not test the detector but its purpose is to trigger the alarm so that you can confirm that the sound and the battery are working. Be aware that the average life span of many carbon monoxide detectors is about 2 years 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. Combination smoke detector and CO detectors are available and should also be installed in accordance with the manufacturer instructions.

Carbon monoxide is a very poisonous gas with no taste, no colour and no smell. It can be produced by a boiler when there is insufficient oxygen in the air supply to the combustion chamber, it is also produced by faulty gas fires and other gas appliances. The lack of oxygen means that Carbon Monoxide is produced rather than the less dangerous Carbon Dioxide. Building regulations prescribing ventilation requirements and the widespread availability gas appliance servicing services has reduced the incidence of Carbon Monoxide poisoning although there are still 30 deaths per year.

What will Carbon Monoxide Poisoning result in?

Don’t take risks, if you think there is carbon monoxide around do not delay. Be decisive and look after your household straight away. Anyone can fall victim to CO poisoning, even the fit and healthy. It is common for pets to be harmed in the same way as humans.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

Carbon Monoxide absorption can result in the following symptoms: –
* ongoing headaches
* queasiness
* extreme tiredness
* sickness

If you’re alarm triggers get everybody out of the house and call a CORGI registered gas engineer. The alarm is indicating the presence of carbon monoxide and this can be reduced by opening doors and Windows to get fresh air flowing through the house provided this can be achieved without taking any risks.

How can I see I have a carbon monoxide problem?

One way of visually checking for potential problems is to check for signs of staining, soot or discoloration on or around gas boilers, fires and water heaters. Poor ventilation can reduce the volume of oxygen available to burn gas within a boiler resulting in the output of carbon dioxide, in these circumstances a pilot light may change from burning with the usual blue colour to a yellow colouration. Act as though a yellow pilot light was a large neon sign shouting help. This is a signal that your gas appliance needs a thorough maintenance review and service.

What should I do to protect myself and my family from carbon monoxide poisoning ?

Carbon monoxide is output from a boiler when there is not enough oxygen available for the flame to burn all the gas in the combustion chamber. Getting a regular boiler service should avoid this provided that there are no long-standing performance problems in 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. You can now buy electronic, battery powered, carbon monoxide detectors which sound an alarm on detection of high levels of the gas. Gas appliances require adequate ventilation and you should make sure that this is satisfactory, one particular danger area is the covering up of ventilation vents in the summer through home decorating and the storage of surplus items.. On several occasions ventilation reviews have discovered air vents which have been blocked by fast growing plants and you should look for this throughout the growing season. And make sure your chimney doesn’t become blocked with birds’ nests or other debris. Ensure that you are aware of the different sounds from your smoke alarms and your CO alarms. If the carbon monoxide detector alarm sounds be certain that it was your CO detector and not your smoke detector.

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