At any level, the presence of carbon monoxide (CO) in a home is dangerous. Because you can’t see, taste or smell it, carbon monoxide can affect you or your family before you even know it’s there. Even at low levels of exposure, carbon monoxide can cause serious health problems, or even death. So, how can you protect your family from carbon monoxide? Firstly, make sure that carbon monoxide is not present in the air in your home. Secondly, install one or more carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Refer to the following tips to purchasing a carbon monoxide detector.

However, if you suspect or have any indications of low levels of carbon monoxide fumes in your home,  get professional testing for carbon monoxide as soon as possible.

Most carbon monoxide detectors give an alarm when carbon monoxide levels reach a high-level in a short time. Though, health agencies advise that long term, low-level exposures are also of concern. Especially for unborn and young children, the elderly and those with a history of heart or respiratory problems. Detectors that can display both high and low levels are more expensive. However, they do provide greater accuracy and more information.

5 Tips to purchasing a Carbon Monoxide detector:

  • Look for a detector that is listed with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standard. The logos of the testing agency will be on the product.
  • Units with batteries allow detector placement in the most convenient locations. However, you must remember to replace worn-out batteries.
  • Choose a detector with a memory to monitor long term low-level exposure and short term, high-level exposure. Though, product standards do not allow manufacturers to display low levels of carbon monoxide, these units monitor and store this information. Peak levels, no matter what the level of concentration, can be viewed by pressing a button.
  • Do not connect plug-in units to an electrical outlets that a wall switch controls.
  • No detectors will operate properly forever. Replace them at least every five years, unless the manufacturer specifies a shorter or longer life. Typically, there will be an expiration date stamped on the back of the unit.

Test Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors Regularly

Most carbon monoxide detectors have a test button. Press it once a week to confirm that the device is in operation. Test detectors with displays with a known source of carbon monoxide such as an incense stick. Hold the carbon monoxide source about 8-10 inches away and watch the digital display respond to the presence of even a small amount of carbon monoxide. Note, an alarm will most likely not sound with this test. There are carbon monoxide detector test kits available. They provide a vial of high level of carbon monoxide (1000 ppm) and a plastic tent to house the unit during the test. This test only proves that your detector will sound an alarm with a very high level of carbon monoxide.

Visit the home inspection experts at AmeriSpec of Canada for more tips and valuable home improvement information.

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