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How to Read a Carbon Monoxide Detector

How to Read a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon monoxide poisoning brings more than 20,000 Americans to the ER each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fortunately, our electrical contractors can install carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home so you’re protected against this silent killer. 

Carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Continue reading to learn how to understand what your carbon monoxide detector is telling you.

1. Hire an Electrician to Install CO Detectors

Just like smoke detectors, you’ll need carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas. Typically, the manufacturer will recommend you install the CO detectors near the ceiling. If you don’t feel comfortable installing CO detectors, call our electricians. We’re always more than happy to help customers make their homes safer.

Carbon monoxide weighs the same as air. However, carbon monoxide is warmer than air when it leaks from fuel-burning appliances. Since heat rises, the carbon monoxide floats to the ceiling where it will be detected by your carbon monoxide alarms.

While most carbon monoxide leaks come from fuel-burning appliances, you shouldn’t install your CO detectors too close. It’s not uncommon for fuel-burning appliances to release a puff of concentrated carbon monoxide when they first switch on, which could give your CO alarm an inaccurately high reading.

2. Understand How CO is Measured

Carbon monoxide is measured in parts per million (PPM). This simply means that for every million parts of air, one of those parts is carbon monoxide. PPM is often used to quantify how much liquid or gas contaminant is present.

3. Recognize When CO Levels are Dangerous

If your CO levels creep above 35 PPM, evacuate your home and call 911. While this shouldn’t be taken as a strict guideline, it helps you understand when carbon dioxide becomes dangerous. 

35 PPM                                Maximum concentration allowed by federal law

200 PPM                              Headaches, dizziness, or nausea after 2 -3 hours

400 PPM                              Severe headaches after 1-2 hours, death after 3 hours

1,600 PPM                           Death in 1 hour

10,000 PPM                         Death in less than 10 minutes

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Dull headache
  • Dizziness or weakness
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Blurry vision

If you recognize any of the above symptoms, visit your local ER as soon as possible. Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are likely to show up first in children, the elderly, and pets. 

We highly encourage homeowners install carbon monoxide detectors so they can prevent illness or even death. The less carbon monoxide you breathe the better chance you’ll have of making a full recovery.

4. Remain Calm

Just because there’s a reading above 0 PPM, doesn’t mean you need to evacuate your home and call 911. In general, federal law considers any reading under 35 PPM to be safe for people exposed more than 8 hours. However, this is only a guideline and not an absolute rule.

5. Call for Help

Elevated carbon monoxide levels are an emergency. If you’re getting a reading of over 35 PPM, you need to evacuate your house and call either 911 or the non-emergency police number for your area. 

Emergency personnel can identify the source of the carbon monoxide leak, repair it, and remove the CO from your home. Until then, it won’t be safe for you or your family to be inside. 

Call Today!

You can trust our Lowell electricians to install the best carbon monoxide detectors for your home. To learn how we can install carbon monoxide detectors in your home, call us today at (616) 987-0596

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