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When to Replace a Carbon Monoxide Detector

On February 3, 2020, In false alarm prevention,

Your home is a hub for activities — including cooking meals, watching television by the fire and warming up the car to take the kids to the next event. Your home is also a haven that you work to keep safe. Whether you’re baby-proofing stairways, installing new locks or putting dangerous objects out of reach, you care about diminishing obvious threats. But what about the risks you cannot see?

Carbon monoxide is one such danger. This gas is difficult to detect and can have dangerous effects in large quantities. Most homes have carbon monoxide detectors to keep families out of danger. However, if you’ve never experienced any outright issues, you may forget to check your detector to make sure it is functioning correctly. Your family’s safety is priceless. The protective measures you take with your carbon monoxide detector can be lifesaving in the event of an emergency. 

Why Are Carbon Monoxide Detectors Crucial?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless and colorless gas that emanates from fuel-burning sources. You already know your vehicle is a CO source, but there are other, less apparent, hazards. According to the National Safety Council, fireplaces, gas ranges, furnaces, grills, small engines, stoves and portable generators can also emit carbon monoxide.

Exposure to carbon monoxide can make you and your loved ones sick. The signs of carbon monoxide poisoning mimic common flu symptoms, which makes it harder to pinpoint CO as the issue. The National Fire Protection Association details the health progression you may experience based on your CO exposure in parts per million and the length of time.

  • 200 ppm: You may experience a mild headache after two to three hours of exposure.
  • 400 ppm: You may have a headache and nausea after one or two hours of exposure.
  • 800 ppm: You may experience dizziness, a headache and nausea after 45 minutes and lose consciousness after an hour.
  • 1,000 ppm: You may lose consciousness after just one hour.
  • 1,600 ppm: You may experience a headache, dizziness and nausea after 20 minutes.
  • 3,200 ppm: You may have a headache, dizziness and nausea within five to 10 minutes and lose consciousness after 30 minutes of exposure. 
  • 6,400 ppm: You may have a headache and feel dizzy after one or two minutes. After 10 to 15 minutes, you are at risk of losing consciousness and may be in danger of death.
  • 12,800 ppm: You may experience immediate symptoms and unconsciousness. After one to three minutes, you may be at risk for death.

As carbon monoxide levels rise, the risk of danger multiplies, and you should treat it as the life-and-death matter it is. CO detectors play a vital role in measuring the amount of carbon monoxide in the air and warning you when levels become dangerous. Depending on the type of detector you have, it may beep specific patterns to warn you when you should evacuate to fresh air.

When to Change a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Do you need to replace carbon monoxide detectors? How long do carbon monoxide detectors last? Most of these devices last five to seven years. During their lifespan, you’ll need to perform regular function tests and keep them stocked with working batteries. 

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends families test their CO detectors once a month. Doing so is a straightforward process:

  1. Hold down your detector’s “test” button.
  2. Wait until you hear two beeps, and release the button.
  3. Hold down the detector’s “test” button once more.
  4. Wait until you hear four beeps, and release the button.
  5. If your detector successfully follows this test sequence, it is in good working condition.

If you have interconnected alarms, make sure they are all making sounds during testing. Ensure that you can hear the noise the detector makes in several rooms. You may also want to wear ear protection while testing, as the devices can be loud.

The CPSC recommends switching out your carbon monoxide detector’s batteries when you adjust your clocks for daylight saving time. Doing so can be an effective way to remember to change batteries and keep the detectors functioning.

When should you replace your CO detector? If you have had your alarms for five to seven years, it may be safest to look for a carbon monoxide detector replacement. Some models may have specific beeping sequences to warn you that the detector is nearing the end of its life and needs replacing. Regardless, it may be beneficial to record the future date when you should replace your CO detector directly after installation.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Requirements in Massachusetts

CO detectors are not only a matter of personal safety. In Massachusetts, they are a state law. Legislators mandated carbon monoxide detectors in 2005 after a young girl named Nicole Garofalo passed away from CO poisoning in her home. Known as “Nicole’s Law,” this legislation outlines several detector requirements for Massachusetts homes.

Types of Buildings That Need Detectors

According to Nicole’s Law, specific buildings with potential CO sources or attached garages require detectors. This list includes:

  • All residential buildings
  • Temporary residential buildings such as hotels and motels
  • Institutional buildings like hospitals, nursing homes, rest homes and jails
  • Group daycare facilities and after-school centers

Detector Installation Requirements

In addition to building requirements, the law outlines specific installation instructions for maximum safety. These include the location and types of acceptable detectors.

  • Detector location: You must installCO detectors on each level of your home. On levels with sleeping areas, your detectors must be within 10 feet of bedroom doors. Attics and basements do not require detectors unless you use them as a living space.
  • Detector type: Your detector could be battery-powered with battery monitoring, plug-in with a battery backup, hard-wired with a battery backup, low-voltage with secondary power or a qualified combination of a smoke detector and CO alarm. Any detector you purchase should have the endorsement of the Underwriters’ Laboratories or International Approval Service.

Detector Requirements for Home Sellers

If you are selling your home, you will need to obtain a certificate of compliance for your carbon monoxide alarms. This certificate ensures your home has the proper detectors before the buyer moves in. Check if you need to replace your detectors, update as necessary and contact your local fire department to set up an inspection.

Contact Wayne Alarm Systems for CO Detectors in MA

For more than 50 years, Wane Alarm Systems has been providing convenient and trustworthy security solutions. We know your peace of mind is priceless. All our installers undergo background checks and receive a certificate of clearance, so you know you’re receiving secure service. 

If you’re not sure how often carbon monoxide detectors should be replaced, we can send an expert to assess your equipment. Our experts can also install detectors in the most beneficial positions to be sure your home is safe and compliant. For more information or to chat with a Wayne Alarm Systems expert, contact us today!

Massachusetts Department of Professional Licensure
License No. C-1111

Massachusetts Department of Public Safety
S-License No. SS CO 0160

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