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How Does a Carbon Monoxide Detector Work and Why Do I Need One?

On July 6th, 2020

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There aren't many things that are a silent threat, but carbon monoxide is one of them.

Many people have smoke detectors in their homes, and that's great. However, CO is just as serious as fires are.

According to the CDC, at least 430 people in the United States die from carbon monoxide poisoning. Roughly 50,000 people in the U.S.A. go to the emergency room each per year as a result of CO poisoning.

The good news is, these numbers can decrease with the help of carbon monoxide sensors. If you're asking yourself, "How does a carbon monoxide detector work"? This article answers that question and more!

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a simple gas molecule that's half carbon and half oxygen. It's created when carbon fuel such as wood, coal, propane, gas, and heating oil doesn't burn completely. Burning these elements is completely safe when done in an open area with lots of ventilation.

However, carbon monoxide becomes harmful when it's released into confined spaces like kitchens, basements, attics, and garages. It's not easily detected without a carbon monoxide sensor because it's colorless and odorless. That's why it's so dangerous.

What Makes Carbon Monoxide So Toxic?

Carbon monoxide is not only harmful, but deadly. When you breathe in carbon monoxide, it blocks your blood cells from transporting the required amount of oxygen. The brain and heart respond quickly, and the rest of your organs are also damaged due to a lack of oxygen.

Not only that, but even low levels of carbon monoxide can cause serious effects like brain damage. Here are some warning signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness

It's important to note that flu-like symptoms are also similar to carbon monoxide symptoms. Flu symptoms are easy to ignore and most people won't assume that their ailments are due to carbon monoxide.

How Does a Carbon Monoxide Detector Work?

Carbon monoxide sensors are similar to fire detectors in that they set off an alarm when carbon monoxide is detected. If it senses a minimum of 50ppm, it could take several hours for the alarm to go off.

However, when high levels of 150ppm or higher are detected, it'll signal the sensor within minutes. The siren will not stop until the sensor is back in a carbon monoxide-free environment.

Do carbon monoxide detectors work? The answer is yes, and here are more reasons why you need one:

Loud Warning

A carbon monoxide sensor can detect small amounts of gas, and if it does, you'll hear it. As piercing as the alarm might be, it's designed to do a job.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is a matter of life or death, so a detector ensures that your family has ample time before CO levels increase.

Detection Before Symptoms Start

Your body will let you know when it's exposed to CO poisoning. However, a carbon monoxide sensor will alert you before that happens. That's way better than going through headaches, nausea, and dizziness.

Not to mention, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide causes loss of consciousness or even death.

Malfunctioning Appliance Detection

Carbon monoxide leaks are generally caused by appliances like gas stoves, gas water heaters, furnaces, cars, and lawnmowers. Most heat-producing appliances are a source of carbon monoxide. Therefore, a CO alarm can let you know if something isn't functioning properly.

Also, if there's a gas leak the sensor will alert you. This helps to get CO levels under control before they cause poisoning.

Reliability in Different Environments

The temperature in your home changes due to temperatures, weather, and humidity levels. However, carbon monoxide detectors are designed to adapt in changing environments. This creates reliability and prevents false alarms.

When to Change Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

It's important to test your carbon monoxide sensor at least once a month. If it operates using replaceable batteries, put in new ones every six months.

But even if you switch your batteries, carbon monoxide detectors don't last forever. Their lifespan is generally 5 to 7 years, depending on the product.

What to Do If Your Carbon Monoxide Sensor Goes Off

1.First things first, don't panic. Round up everyone in the house and go outdoors for fresh air. Have each person open as many windows as possible on the way out. Leave the front or back door open when you go outside.

2. Check to make sure no one has carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms.

3. If anyone is experiencing symptoms, call 911 immediately.

4. If you can, try not to go back into your home until the alarms cease or an emergency responder advises that your residence is safe again.

5. Call a professional that can check your appliances and other potential culprits of carbon monoxide exposure. It's important to ensure there are no future incidents.

A Carbon Monoxide Detector Could Save Your Life

When it comes to your family's safety, make sure your home is equipped with everything needed to keep them protected. Carbon monoxide isn't something you have to fear. As long as you have a CO sensor on your side, you're free from danger.

How does a carbon monoxide detector work? Hopefully, this article answered that question for you.

Do you need a carbon monoxide detector? If so, we can help. We service Shreveport, LA, and the surrounding areas, and our team of skilled professionals can provide the security you need for your home.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. An Accutemp staff member will be happy to assist you!

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