At What Level Does A Carbon Monoxide Detector Go Off?

Do you care to know at what level does a carbon monoxide detector go off? If yes, then you are in the right place.

The answer is: Yes, the carbon monoxide detector goes off under continuous exposure of the gas at levels of 40 parts per million and above.

In this post, I will discuss carbon monoxide and critical things you need to know about the CO detector. Read to learn more!

Carbon Monoxide Levels That Can Set Your Detector Off

Carbon Monoxide Levels Detector’s Response Time
1. 40 PPM 10 hours.
2. 50 PPM 8 hours.
3. 70 PPM 1 – 4 hours.
4. 150 PPM 10 – 50 minutes.
5. 400 PPM 4 – 15 minutes

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is not visible to the naked eyes. The gas is also colorless, odorless, and tasteless.

But guess what; CO (the same as carbon monoxide) is deadlier than anything you can imagine. And surprisingly, hundreds of people die as a result of this gas yearly.

But since the gas isn’t visible to the naked eyes, many people do not see it as a potential threat.

The thing is people are even more scared of things they can see, than the ones they can’t — for instance, fire. Many people will take action to prevent fire incidents.

And they may even prefer purchasing a fire extinguisher then the so-called carbon monoxide detector.

But don’t forget that carbon monoxide is a deadly gas.

How Is Carbon Monoxide Generated?

Carbon monoxide is generated from human activities. It circulates in homes most when the cooking appliance (fuel-burning device) in the kitchen isn’t functioning appropriately.

The fuel-burning device could be a stove, furnace, fireplace, or hot-water heater. So long as it uses fuel, it is capable of releasing this dangerous gas into the air.

CO (carbon monoxide) is generated as a result of the incomplete burning of various fuels, including coal, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, propane, and natural gas.

And one of the devices that use this fossil fuel includes cars, bikes, boats, and airplanes, among others.

So, when you leave your bike or car in the garage to continue working, it will likely release carbon monoxide into your room.

And this may trigger the carbon dioxide detector if you have one installed on your property already.

What Harm Can Carbon Monoxide Cause?

Hearing that carbon monoxide is dangerous isn’t enough. You also need to know the harm it can cause when exposed to the gas for an extended period.

Being exposed to carbon monoxide can cause you to experience a flu-like symptom that could take any form.

The flu-like system can cause you to feel dizzy, confused, headache, drowsy, and even nausea.

Does carbon monoxide poison affect kids?

The sad truth is that kids are more prone to CO poisoning than grown-ups. And there are cases where the parent might be doing fine while the kids may have been poisoned by the gas.

And the ugly side of the whole matter is that carbon dioxide poison can cause brain damage both in adults and children. Reports have also indicated that several people have lost their lives due to poison from this gas.

Do pets suffer carbon monoxide poison as humans do?

If you keep pets in your house, try to observe them for some time when your carbon monoxide detector goes off.

The thing is pets suffer carbon monoxide poisoning faster than humans. In other words, they will experience the poison in the same property faster than humans.

So, if you find that your pet is weak or unresponsive, try to move her to a place where there is fresh, uncontaminated air. She will regain her strength after some time.

But if exposed for long, carbon monoxide can cause severe damage to the brain, heart or death within a short time.

Symptom Of Carbon Monoxide Poison You Should Know

Being able to identify the signs of this deadly gas might turn out to be a lifesaver for you and members of your family.

So, without much ado, here are the signs that someone has been exposed to a high amount of this deadly gas called CO.

  • Chest pain.
  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Headache.
  • Fatigue.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea.
  • Confusion.
  • Low blood pressure.

Here is how carbon monoxide can affect an individual

We humans usually take in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.

But when exposed to a place filled with excess carbon monoxide, the CO gas will replace oxygen in the blood. And that’s where the problem starts.

However, the best thing to do when your carbon monoxide detector goes off is to move to a safe area. And the secure area in question should be a place with fresh air.

Now the thing is, not every CO alarm that goes off is a result of rising in carbon monoxide levels in the house. Other things can trigger the detector.

But you should not assume the reason yours got triggered isn’t because of excess carbon monoxide.

You need to move into a place where you can breathe in fresh air while carefully observing the situation.

Principle of CO Detectors

In this section, we will discuss how CO detectors work and how they can help keep your home safe.

There are two primary types of CO detectors: electrochemical sensors and biomimetic sensors. The most common type is the electrochemical sensor, which uses a chemical reaction to detect CO levels.

When carbon monoxide comes into contact with the chemical inside the sensor, it causes an electrical change in the sensor. Once the change in the electrical signal reaches a certain threshold, the CO detector will sound the alarm.

On the other hand, biomimetic sensors detect carbon monoxide by mimicking how our bodies respond to CO poisoning. These sensors utilize a gel material which changes color in the presence of CO.

When the color change reaches a certain level, the sensor triggers the alarm to alert you of the danger.

Now, you may wonder at what level your CO detector will go off. CO detectors are designed to sound the alarm at specific levels of carbon monoxide concentration and duration of exposure.

For example, under continuous exposure to 40 parts per million (ppm) or more, the alarm will go off. The higher the concentration, the quicker the alarm will be triggered.

To ensure proper functioning of your CO detectors, follow these tips:

  • Install one on each level of your home and near bedrooms.
  • Test the detector monthly by pressing the test button.
  • Replace the batteries at least once a year or when the low battery signal sounds.
  • Keep the detectors clean by gently vacuuming them with a soft brush attachment.

In conclusion, understanding the principle of CO detectors and the carbon monoxide levels that trigger alarms can help you safeguard your home effectively.

Regular maintenance and testing of your detectors act as a vital measure in preventing potential CO poisoning incidents.

Four Reasons Why Your Co Detector Probably Went Off

Your carbon monoxide detector is designed to go off in response to CO pollution in the air.

But keep in mind that numerous factors can trigger your detector’s alarm.

Here are the four possible reasons;

  • The detector is only doing its job and has detected carbon monoxide pollution in the air; that’s why it went off.
  • It’s a false alarm triggered by other household items.
  • The detector malfunctioned.
  • The battery is faulty or probably needs a replacement.

These are the four possible reasons your CO detector went off. Now, here is what you should do in any of the cases mentioned above.

What to do when your detector goes off because of CO pollution in the air?

The first thing that many individuals think about when a CO detector goes off is that there is carbon monoxide pollution in the air.

And even though you are not using your cooking apparatus (stove, furnace, water heater) at the moment, keep in mind that CO may be entering your house from the neighbors’.

At this point, you must act fast before the gas causes damage to your health, members of your family or pet.

Here’s what you should do when your detector goes off because of CO pollution

  • Check your appliances (central heating, stoves, fireplaces) if they are the cause of the problem. If any of them is on and not in use, turn it down immediately.
  • Keep your windows and doors wide open for fresh air to come into the house.
  • If you suspect that a particular appliance is the cause of the problem, hire a technician to fix it before using their device.
  • If any member of your family is displaying symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning, call the fire department immediately but move the person far away from the affected area to get fresh air before the fire team arrives.
  • Ensure the property is carbon monoxide free before you go in, and ensure that the damaged appliance has been fixed and checked to prevent a reoccurrence of the same problem.
  • Educate members of your family on what to do whenever the alarm goes off. It will help avoid casualties, particularly when you are far away from home.
  • Inspect the carbon monoxide detector for any possible fault.
  • Carefully observe if the problem is coming from your neighbors’ house. You can ask them to check their appliances too.

What to do when your carbon monoxide detector goes off because of a false alarm

Your CO detector can be triggered due to any fuel-burning appliance in your house that’s in use. These include ovens, boilers, or even gas cookers.

Here’s something important that you need to know;

Your oven, boilers, and gas cookers produce CO gas, but in a smaller amount. But when ventilation is not adequate, or the venting is clogged by dust, CO might start building up. And that could trigger the CO alarm as the volume of the gas increases.

On the other hand, poor quality or cheap detectors can be triggered by a Hydrogen gas. Such alarms can also be triggered by a large volume of petroleum fumes too.

So, it is advisable to buy a good quality detector. Avoid cheap stand-alone carbon monoxide detector that goes off often even when there is no real threat.

What to do when your carbon monoxide detector beeps because of battery or it’s faulty

Electronic devices can’t last forever, so in their cells. So another cogent reason your detector is beeping could be the battery or that the equipment is faulty.

So, the best advice is to change the battery or fix the detector so that it can function to capacity.

Effective Installation and Maintenance

Installing and maintaining your carbon monoxide detector properly is crucial for protecting your home and family. Here are a few guidelines to follow:

  • Location: Place a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home, particularly near sleeping areas. This ensures that the alarm is loud enough to wake you up in case of a CO leak.
  • Height: Install the detector on the wall at least 5 feet from the ground or on the ceiling six feet away from a flame or fuel source. This helps avoid false alarms.
  • Distance from appliances: Make sure to install the detector in the same room as the potential source but at least 15 cm away from the ceiling and one meter away from the appliances.
  • Battery maintenance: Regularly check and replace the batteries in your CO detector to ensure it functions correctly. Use the manufacturer’s recommended battery type for optimal performance.
  • Fresh air: When installing a CO detector, avoid blocking it with furniture or placing it near an entrance door or ventilation, as this may impact the indoor air quality that it measures.

Incorporating these tips into your CO detector installation and maintenance routine will help ensure that your household is safe from potential carbon monoxide leaks.

How Often Should You Replace Your Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Depending on the brand, carbon monoxide should be replaced every five to ten years. But you don’t have to wait for yours to get to ten years before going for a replacement. The earlier, the better!

Every detector has a manufacturing date. So, check yours to know when it will be due for replacement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What triggers a carbon monoxide alarm?

A carbon monoxide (CO) alarm is triggered when the device detects increased levels of CO in the air.

This can happen due to faulty or poorly maintained fuel-burning appliances, blocked chimneys, or other issues that cause CO build-up within your home.

At what concentration is carbon monoxide harmful?

Concentrations of CO above 9 parts per million (PPM) can be harmful to your health. A CO detector alarm will typically go off when levels reach higher than 101 PPM, a potentially dangerous level.

If someone is experiencing symptoms due to CO exposure, any level above 101 PPM is considered particularly hazardous.

How do different CO levels affect health?

Different CO levels can cause varied symptoms:

  • At 9 PPM or lower: No symptoms are expected.
  • 9-50 PPM: Mild headache, nausea, and fatigue may occur. Most CO detectors won’t sound an alarm at this level.
  • 51-100 PPM: Headaches, dizziness, and increased heart rate may occur.
  • 101 PPM and above: Severe headaches, disorientation, and other symptoms like unconsciousness and death in extreme cases

Are there safe levels of carbon monoxide exposure?

CO levels of 9 PPM or lower are generally considered safe and shouldn’t cause any noticeable symptoms.

However, long-term exposure to even low levels of CO can be harmful, particularly for vulnerable populations such as infants, the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing health conditions

What are the guidelines for CO detector placement?

CO detectors should be placed on every level of your home, ideally outside sleeping areas and near fuel-burning appliances. Proper installation and maintenance of detectors are crucial to ensure accurate detection.

Additionally, it’s essential not to block the device with tape, gum, or other debris that could obstruct the sensors.

How often should CO detectors be replaced?

Most carbon monoxide detectors have a lifespan of around 5-7 years. Manufacturers will often include “end-of-life” warnings on their devices to alert users when it’s time for replacement.

Keep track of your CO detector’s age and replace it per the manufacturer’s guidelines to maintain proper detection and protection.

Final Verdict

Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that can cause real problems. It can damage the brain and also lead to death in severe cases.

So, it is advisable to install a CO detector on your property so that you can receive a notification whenever the carbon monoxide levels in your home increases.

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