Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Detector Installation

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 2,100 Americans die from unintentional carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning each year in the United States. It’s our nation’s number one cause of poisoning deaths. That’s because carbon monoxide is colorless, tasteless, and odorless – but carbon monoxide poisoning is absolutely preventable.

You are now required by law to have smoke detectors installed in your home. Taking the extra step of installing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home will guard your family against disaster.

Schedule an appointment for smoke and carbon monoxide detector installation.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Is your home protected from carbon monoxide poisoning?

People who are sleeping when a CO leak occurs – commonly from a malfunctioning appliance – will never notice carbon monoxide without an alarm going off and waking them. In addition, depending upon the level in the air, carbon monoxide can be fatal within minutes. A CO detector will detect elevated levels of carbon monoxide and alert you and your family when there is a risk of being poisoned.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

The initial symptoms can feel like the flu without the fever. Look for warning signs like:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness
  • Sleepiness
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Irregular breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Chest pain

Sources of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is associated with many household appliances like gas ranges and stoves, gas clothes dryers, water heaters, furnaces, and gas or wood fireplaces. Carbon monoxide can also be produced by fuel-burning space heaters, exhaust from cars, and gas or charcoal grills.

If items like these have venting malfunctions or are operated in poorly ventilated areas, carbon monoxide can build up rapidly without notice. Clogged fireplace chimneys and closed woodstove flues can also cause carbon monoxide to back up into your home. Before you know it, you’re surrounded by toxic air you can’t notice with any of your senses.

Here’s how you can prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your house:

  • Have CO detectors installed in your home. At a minimum, have one installed on every level of your home and outside each bedroom.
  • Change the batteries in your CO detector every six to twelve months.
  • Do not EVER run a generator, vehicle, or operate any devices with fuel-fed motors inside your home or even inside your garage. Even if the garage door is open to the exterior, CO can still build up to toxic levels.
  • Make sure your car is turned off when it is parked in the garage. A car accidentally turned on with a remote starter or left running will quickly leak overpowering amounts of CO into the home.
  • Look for Underwriters’ Laboratories (UL) or the American Gas Association seal of approval when purchasing gas equipment and appliances.
  • Have your gas appliances inspected annually by a licensed appliance professional.
  • Do not use flameless chemical heaters indoors or in enclosed spaces. They burn gas and will allow CO to build up to toxic levels.
  • Have a service expert repair any gas appliance that is not functioning properly.
  • Be sure to open the flue when enjoying a fire in the fireplace or furnace.
  • Do not use a gas oven to heat your home.
  • Only use grills outside in a well-ventilated area.
  • Use battery-powered heaters when camping.
  • Keep all gas appliances properly adjusted and use an exhaust fan where appropriate.
  • Know the difference between the sound of your smoke alarm and your CO alarm.
  • If you cannot afford a CO detector, contact your local fire department. There are programs to help the elderly and low-income households acquire these life-saving devices.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Placement

Smoke rises, but carbon monoxide diffuses evenly throughout the home. Whenever possible, standalone carbon monoxide detectors should be installed between knee and chest height. Knee level is preferable because this is roughly the level your face will be when you sleep. If you have pets or children who may tamper with the devices, put CO detectors at chest height.

However, combination smoke-and-carbon-monoxide detectors should be installed at ceiling height so they can detect the earliest signs of smoke from a fire.

Never hide smoke or carbon monoxide detectors behind curtains or doors, because this can reduce their functionality.

Smoke Detector Installation

The U.S. Fire Association (USFA) reports that fires cause an average of 3,040 deaths and 14,960 injuries per year in the U.S.

Today, most state and local laws require that smoke detectors be installed anyplace there is human habitation. These laws require that smoke detectors be near every bedroom in the house and in some cases, they must be present in stairways, halls, and garages. In addition, new construction laws require that smoke detectors be hooked up to the electrical wiring, be interconnected, and have a battery backup system in place.

The National Fire Protection Association highly recommends replacing your smoke detectors every ten years because as the systems age, the electrical components become less reliable.

Don’t put yourself at an increased risk; contact Mr. Electric to install updated smoke detectors today!

Different Kinds of Smoke Detectors

There are two main kinds of smoke detectors: ionization and photoelectric. Both types of smoke detectors effectively sense smoke and both are required to pass UL certification.

However, there are key differences in the way they operate and in how they respond to smoke:

  • Ionization – This type of detector has continuous current running between two electrodes and when smoke goes into the unit, the current is interrupted and the alarm sounds. The drawback to this type of smoke detector is that it cannot tell the difference between steam and smoke. This makes ionization smoke detectors subject to false alarms when placed near kitchens and bathrooms. They tend to respond to everyday things like burnt toast and hot showers. The advantage of ionization detectors over photoelectric detectors is that they are less expensive and respond more quickly to flaming fires. In addition, when the battery starts to fail, these detectors will alert you to change the battery because the alarm will sound.
  • Photoelectric – This type of detector responds to a reduction in light reaching an internal photocell. When smoke goes into the unit, the light is scattered and the alarm sounds. These detectors respond more quickly to smoldering fires than ionization smoke detectors. In addition, because these detectors are less likely to send out a false alarm, they are less likely to be a nuisance. However, this type of smoke detector is slower to detect a flaming fire and will not alert you when the batteries are dead.

Whichever type of smoke detector you decide to use, change their batteries annually. Mr. Electric recommends picking a day every year that you will remember, like New Year’s Day or your birthday, to go through the house, testing your detectors and changing the batteries.

Smoke Detector Installation and Fire Safety Tips

Here is a list of smoke detector tips to keep you and your family safe:

  • Have at least one smoke detector on each level of your house.
  • Check the operation of your smoke detectors and alarms every six to twelve months.
  • Be sure to have battery powered back-up in your smoke detectors (rechargeable batteries are not recommended).
  • Avoid placing smoke detectors near drafts, doors, and windows.
  • Be sure that your smoke detectors are centered on the ceiling and they are at least six inches away from the wall. If you have a wall unit, make sure that it is at least one foot below the ceiling.
  • The best location for smoke detectors is near bedrooms, in hallways, and at the top of stairwells.
  • To keep dust from building up within the smoke detector, lightly vacuum the detector annually.
  • Do not pull the unit from the wall to try to turn off a false alarm.
  • Do not remove the batteries except to change them. Thirty percent of smoke detectors don’t work because the user has removed the battery and forgotten to replace it.
  • If you cannot afford smoke detectors, please contact your local fire department. They will let you know about local programs to help the elderly and low-income households get smoke detectors for their homes.
  • Keep at least one fire blanket somewhere in your home.
  • Keep at least one fire extinguisher somewhere in your home.
  • Establish an emergency exit plan with your family.
  • Once you exit your home during a fire, DO NOT return! Many people have lost their lives going back into their home. Wait for firefighters to arrive.

How Do I Test My Smoke Detector?

First, push the test button on the smoke detector to see if the alarm sounds. This will let you know if the battery is working or if the electrical power is connected.

Second, test the smoke detector by placing a lit match or a lit candle 6 inches below it to see if the alarm will sound. If the alarm does not sound, blow out the candle or match and see if the smoke sets it off. If the smoke detector still does not go off, then you may need to replace the unit. It is important to remember that just because the power is working does not mean the smoke detection device is working. Be sure to check them both.

Leaving you or your family at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning or fire is senseless. Call your local Mr. Electric at (844) 866-1367 to purchase and install high quality smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home today! You can also schedule an appointment online.