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How to Test Carbon Monoxide Detectors

On November 10, 2022, In carbon monoxide,

How to Test Carbon Monoxide Detectors

When it comes to keeping your business or home safe, your first thought might be of dangers like fires and burglars. Yet carbon monoxide poisoning, also called “the silent killer,” is a common occurrence caused by the incomplete burning of carbon fuels like natural gas. Fortunately, carbon monoxide poisoning is entirely preventable with the proper safety devices. Carbon monoxide detectors work by detecting unsafe levels of carbon monoxide and sounding an alarm so everyone can reach safety.

Regularly testing your carbon monoxide detectors is crucial for ensuring they work effectively throughout the year. Learn how to check carbon monoxide detectors and protect your family, customers and employees.

Why Is Testing Your Carbon Monoxide Detector Important?

Testing carbon monoxide detectors ensures they function correctly. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that kills at least 430 people yearly and sends tens of thousands more to the emergency room.

Carbon monoxide poisoning has several causes, including burning fuel in furnaces, stoves, fireplaces or small engines. Some of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

High inhalation of carbon monoxide can cause unconsciousness and death. However, carbon monoxide poisoning is preventable. Properly functioning carbon monoxide detectors are a vital defense against this gas and its effects.

Types of Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Homeowners and business owners have three options when choosing carbon monoxide detectors for their homes or businesses. Each carbon monoxide detector type provides the same protection against carbon monoxide poisoning, although they function differently. Consider each type of carbon monoxide detector and its benefits to decide which is best for your situation.

Metal Oxide

Metal oxide carbon monoxide detectors have a silica chip connected to circuits. When carbon monoxide reaches the right level and comes into contact with the detector’s circuitry, a change occurs that lowers the electrical resistance. The alarm sounds when the device recognizes the electrical change.

The benefits of metal oxide carbon monoxide detectors include:

  • No batteries: These detectors typically plug into a wall outlet because they require more electricity, so you don’t have to remember to change the batteries.
  • Portability: You can move these carbon monoxide detectors to different rooms or a different home or building if you move.


Biometric carbon monoxide detectors, also called biomimetic detectors, use technology to mimic the effects of carbon monoxide in the blood. These detectors have a gel-coated disc that turns a different color when exposed to carbon monoxide. A sensor detects the color change and triggers the alarm. Once a biometric carbon monoxide detector alarms, it must be placed in an environment free of carbon monoxide to reset.

You might be interested in a biometric carbon monoxide detector because it’s:

  • More affordable: The technology in these detectors is less expensive than other detectors.
  • Battery-operated: These detectors can be battery-operated, so they work even if your business or home loses power.


Electrochemical carbon monoxide detectors operate through a change in the electric current flowing through a chemical solution. Electrical diodes immersed in the solution send an electrical current to the detector’s sensor. The detector alarms when the current changes because of carbon monoxide.

The benefits of electrochemical carbon monoxide detectors are:

  • High sensitivity: These detectors are highly responsive to carbon monoxide levels.
  • Quick resets: Electrochemical carbon monoxide detectors reset quickly.

Steps to Test a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Although the types of carbon monoxide detectors use different technology to identify carbon monoxide in the air, the steps to test a carbon monoxide detector are generally the same. Here’s how to test the carbon monoxide alarms in your home or business:

Prepare for the Test

1. Prepare for the Test

Taking a few steps will help you prepare to complete a carbon monoxide alarm test. Alert your security company of the test, especially if your carbon monoxide detectors are linked to your security system. You’ll need to notify your security company about the test so they know not to alert local emergency responders.

Get ear protection before you test a carbon monoxide detector, as the alarm is loud. Then put your detector in test mode to prevent it from alarming unnecessarily.

2. Hold the Test Button

To test a carbon monoxide detector, locate the “test” button on your device. Press and hold this button until you hear two beeps or chirps. If you have interconnected alarms operating on the same security system, they should beep together. Your detector may flash a light instead of or in addition to the beeps. Release the button.

3. Press the Test Button Again

After the two beeps have sounded, press and hold the test button again until you hear four beeps. Release the button.

4. Ensure the Detector Returns to its Original Setting

Once you’ve completed the test, ensure the carbon monoxide detector returns to its original setting. The device might do this automatically, or you may need to reset it manually. Sometimes the test and reset button are the same, and you may just need to press it longer for the reset. Consult your detector’s manufacturer instructions for more details.

Frequently Asked Questions About Testing Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Consider these frequently asked questions about carbon monoxide detectors to learn all you need to know to keep your home or business protected:

1. How Often Should You Test a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Knowing when to test carbon monoxide detectors is vital for maintaining their effectiveness. The best practice is to test carbon monoxide detectors once a month.

2. Can You Perform a Crisis Test With a Carbon Monoxide Alarm?

You should not perform a crisis test with a carbon monoxide alarm. Some companies sell canisters of carbon monoxide designed to spray onto carbon monoxide detectors to determine whether the alarm will sound when exposed to the gas. However, purposefully emitting carbon dioxide could be dangerous. Following the steps for a carbon monoxide test ensures your alarms are working.

3. How Can You Be Sure Your Test Worked?

If you performed the steps above for testing your carbon monoxide alarm and it sounded the right beeps, your detector is in good working order. However, your device might not beep if the batteries are low. If it’s been a while since you replaced the batteries last or you can’t hear an alarm during a test, replace the batteries.

4. How Do You Keep Carbon Monoxide Detectors Working Well?

Here are a few tips for keeping your carbon monoxide detectors working correctly:

  • Install in the right areas: For homes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends installing carbon monoxide detectors outside bedrooms or where everyone in your house can hear the alarm. For businesses, place carbon monoxide detectors where everyone in the building can hear them.
  • Keep detectors clean: Ensure detectors are free of dust and debris.
  • Change batteries: Carbon monoxide detectors need a battery change every six months.
  • Replace when needed: You should also know when to replace carbon monoxide detectors. Some detectors have expiration dates, while others may work for five to seven years as long as they’re in good condition.

Trust Wayne Alarm Systems for Carbon Monoxide Detection and Monitoring

Trust Wayne Alarm Systems for Carbon Monoxide Detection and Monitoring

Sometimes appliances malfunction, leading to a carbon monoxide threat that could jeopardize your family, customers or employees. Effective carbon monoxide detectors and monitoring are vital for ensuring everyone in your home or business stays safe from carbon monoxide poisoning. At Wayne Alarm Systems, we offer products and services like carbon monoxide detectors to improve your safety.

We understand that your safety is your top concern, which is why we’ve been committed to providing top-notch monitoring and customer services for over 40 years. We prioritize your safety with 24/7 system monitoring and quick response times to ensure your business or home is protected.

To see how we can outfit your home or business for improved safety, contact our highly trained security experts for a free consultation today.