What Can Cause A Carbon Monoxide Detector to Go Off?

All homes throughout the Montgomery, AL area need a carbon monoxide detector. These safety devices warn occupants if dangerous carbon monoxide gas is present inside living areas so you and your loved ones avoid exposure and make repairs to eliminate the source. If you have a carbon monoxide detector going off, the source could be a number of different things – Hans Heating and Air explains what can cause the carbon monoxide alarm to sound and what you should do when you hear it.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gas produced by burning fuel, like natural gas. It has no smell or color, which makes it virtually undetectable by humans. When carbon monoxide is a deadly gas and when it builds up inside a home, it poses serious health risks to occupants. Carbon monoxide poisoning kills more than 400 people across the country each year and injures thousands more.

Carbon monoxide is produced by any fuel burning appliance. The fuel could be gasoline, natural gas, wood, kerosene, and others. When these fuel burning appliances malfunction or are not used in the correct manner, they produce carbon monoxide that has the potential to build up indoors.

Does My Home Need a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Because carbon monoxide is basically undetectable by humans, households in Montgomery, AL, and across the world need a carbon monoxide detector for safety. Carbon monoxide detectors are battery-powered or hardwired to the home’s electrical system with a battery backup in the event of a power outage. When it detects excess carbon monoxide, the carbon monoxide alarm sounds to alert occupants to leave the home.

If your home has a gas furnace, other natural gas appliances like a water heater, a fireplace, wood burning stoves, or an attached garage, you need a carbon monoxide detector. Whenever there is gas or combustion present, there is a risk of a carbon monoxide leak.

Where Should I Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

It is critical homeowners install carbon monoxide detectors in appropriate locations throughout the home. The basic rules for carbon monoxide detector installation are:

  • One CO detector is installed on each level of the home.
  • Install CO detectors at about “knee-level.” This guideline is intended to mimic where a person’s head is during sleep.
  • Place CO detectors near all sleeping areas so they are heard overnight.
  • Place a CO detector near an attached garage to detect gas that seeps into the home from a running vehicle.
  • Do not place CO detectors close to fuel-burning appliances. Sometimes this causes false alarms.
  • Do not install CO detectors in humid areas, in direct sunlight, or near blowing air sources.
  • If you have a combo smoke and CO detector, install it according to the smoke detector or the manufacturer’s instructions.

Why Is My Carbon Monoxide Detector Going Off?

If you hear a carbon monoxide alarm in your home, that means the device has detected unsafe levels of CO gas within the home. A number of different things can be responsible for a carbon monoxide detector going off, including:

  • Furnace malfunctions
  • Improper use of gas stoves
  • Unvented fireplaces
  • Use of portable gas heaters inside
  • Use of gas or charcoal grills inside
  • Running vehicles in attached garages

What to Do If You Hear a Carbon Monoxide Detector Going Off

Whenever you hear a carbon monoxide alarm going off, it is important to act quickly. Doing so can prevent exposure to carbon monoxide, which can be deadly. Here’s what you need to do whenever these devices sound in your home:

  • Always take CO alarms seriously.
  • Evacuate everyone from the home immediately.
  • Call 911 and report that you have a carbon monoxide detector going off so emergency services can be dispatched.
  • Assess your family members for symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and request medical assistance if anyone shows signs associated with exposure.
  • Stay outside of the home and get lots of fresh air until first responders tell you it’s ok to reenter.
  • If you learn that a faulty gas appliance was responsible for your carbon monoxide alarms going off, call a professional repair company to inspect and service the appliance before you use it again. Do not attempt to run the appliance before necessary repairs are complete.

Protect Against CO Leaks with Hans Heating and Air

In good working condition, a fuel burning appliance like natural gas furnaces pose very little risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Carbon monoxide produced by a combustion furnace safely vents the gas outside the home.

However, when the furnace’s fuel burning and ventilation processes are disrupted, it is possible for carbon monoxide to back up into the home. Leak sources are also broken components, such as cracked heat exchangers, or vent blockages.

A furnace maintenance inspection and tune up catch most sources of carbon monoxide leaks within a natural gas heating system. Annual service is not only important to improve furnace efficiency and performance, but to ensure safe operation and protect your family.

Schedule your furnace maintenance tune up with Hans Heating and Air today! In addition to furnace service, our technicians also help you determine if you need a carbon monoxide detector and where to place them throughout your Montgomery area home. Contact us today to schedule your appointment for furnace maintenance.

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