Troubleshooting a Carbon Monoxide Detector

This is a guest post from One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning of Charlotte, a heating and air conditioning company in Charlotte NC. In addition to the extensive heating and A/C services, the provide furnace, heat pump, water heater, and indoor air quality services.
A carbon monoxide detector is an important device that detects the presence of CO gas in the air. Since carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, it’s easy to get carbon monoxide poisoning if the levels are too high. Of course, these detectors can only protect your home and family if they are working properly. That is why troubleshooting your device is the most important thing you can do to ensure the unit’s reliability and efficiency.
Here are simple steps on how to test your system for maximum carbon monoxide safety:
Step 1: Make Sure the Detectors are Installed Properly
Your home may have already come with carbon monoxide detectors. In this case, all you have to do is make sure the devices are correctly installed. There should be at least one detector on each floor of the home, 10 feet away from sources of carbon monoxide such as ovens or a fireplace. If installing the detectors on your own, place them on a wall or ceiling, approximately 5 feet above the floor.
Step 2: Test the System Regularly 
You may need to check the manufacturer’s manual for more exact instructions, but generally, there will be a “test” button on the detector. Simply press the button to make sure that it’s drawing a source of electricity. Keep in mind that the sounding of an alarm doesn’t mean that the detector is reading the levels correctly, but instead that it’s drawing electricity as it should.
Step 3: Test the Response to Low Levels of Carbon Monoxide
Since testing your unit will only tell you if electricity is being drawn to the detector, test the unit to make sure it’s reading carbon monoxide levels correctly. Light an incense stick and bring it about 8 inches below the detector. This should be enough to register a small amount of carbon monoxide in the air. Or, purchase a kit that tests for larger concentrations of carbon monoxide.
Step 4: Replace Old Batteries 
Always use a fresh set of batteries. Generally speaking, the detector will make a chirping noise and let you know when it’s time to replace the batteries so you won’t be left unaware. Also make sure all the lights are blinking, which is another sign that the batteries are working.
Step 5: Clean the Unit
Dust and cobwebs can build up around the detectors, so make sure you keep them clean. Remove the unit if it’s dirty for a quick wipe down, or lightly vacuum around the sensor chambers. This is one of the best ways to ensure proper air flow and ventilation to the sensors.
Step 5: Replace Your Detector as Required 
Although the lifespan of CO detectors vary, many only have a lifespan of two years. Make sure that you read the manual and understand when it’s time to replace the detector with a new one. Also check the manual for other important information, such as whether or not there is a power supply backup and what the indicator lights mean.
There is nothing worse than relying on a device that isn’t working properly. Take the proper initiatives to troubleshoot your device; this extra step toward protecting your family will be well worth it.

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