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How to Read Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

Posted On: June 2, 2021

According to the CDC, approximately 50,000 people in the States visit the emergency room every year due to accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. At least 430 of these people die. That being the case, a carbon monoxide detector is an essential device for every homeowner; however, installing one isn’t enough. 

In order for you to benefit from a carbon monoxide detector, you need to be able to read and understand it. In this article, we will teach you how to read your carbon monoxide detector and understand if/when the CO in your home is at a dangerous level.

Proper Carbon Monoxide Detector Installation

The best way to keep yourself safe from carbon monoxide poisoning is to have a carbon monoxide detector that’s properly installed. That’s why having a professional install your carbon monoxide detector is highly, highly recommended. If your device isn’t installed properly, any readings it gives will likely be inaccurate. 

Additionally, you’ll want to have a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home. The detector is typically installed near the ceiling because carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air (ergo, it will rise).

That said, you don’t want the detector to be too close to any appliances, either. Many appliances will generate a high amount of concentrated carbon monoxide when powered on. This can also cause your detector to give a false reading.

Know How a Detector Measures CO

Carbon monoxide is measured in parts per million (ppm), which means that one part out of one million parts of air is carbon monoxide. We know that sounds complicated. Don’t worry, there’s no math involved. 

Your detector will calculate the units for you and let you know if levels are dangerously high. Many models have a digital screen for an easy read.

Understand What Levels Are Dangerous

Carbon monoxide levels above 35 PPM require immediate attention. In this case, it’s best to vacate the property and call 911 to have your home evaluated. 

On the other hand, if your detector doesn’t say zero, that’s okay. Levels under 35 PPM are considered to be safe by federal law if exposure is limited to under eight hours.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning 

When there is too much carbon monoxide present, the amount of oxygen in the air is significantly reduced. This is the main cause of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

The most common symptoms include: 

  • A dull, consistent headache 
  • Dizziness 
  • Fatigue/weakness
  • Flu-like symptoms 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Blurred vision/trouble seeing 
  • General confusion

Typically, pets, young children, and elderly family members are the first to feel the effects of elevated carbon monoxide levels. If you or any of your family members or roommates are experiencing these symptoms, there’s no time to waste. Get to the ER immediately. 

Call a Professional 

Carbon monoxide detectors are one of the most important devices to have in your home. That’s why it’s best to have your detector replaced every five to seven years.

If you still don’t know how to read your CO detector or you’re unsure whether your carbon monoxide detector is giving proper readings, you may need a carbon monoxide detector replacement. T.E. Spall & Son can help! CALL SPALL for a consultation today to keep you and your family safe.

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