How Often to Replace Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors

It’s more often than you think.


September 7, 2020

PA 2 66 Replace-Carbon-Monoxide Desktop

If you watch the local news, you’ve probably seen at some point a dramatic piece along these lines: “It’s an odorless, colorless gas. It can collect undetected in enclosed spaces. In the right concentration, it’s deadly. Could it be lurking in  your  home?” Sounds pretty scary, right? And it is — carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is no joke, so it’s no wonder carbon monoxide detectors have become so popular. But first, let’s review what carbon monoxide is, as well as what causes it.

What Is Carbon Monoxide, and What Causes It?

Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of fuel burning. In simpler terms, CO is produced whenever a material burns. Homes with fuel-burning appliances or attached garages are more likely to have CO problems.

Fuel-burning appliances are more common in colder climates and older homes, so if you live somewhere cold, you likely have quite a few and might be at higher risk. If you’re not familiar, fuel-burning appliances include water heaters, fireplaces, automobiles, wood stoves, clothes dryers, boilers or furnaces, or lawn equipment and gas-powered tools.

How Do I Know if I’m Exposed to Carbon Monoxide?

In short,  you likely won’t know unless you have a detector. You might start to  notice some symptoms, but it’s easy to dismiss those as something else, such as the flu. That’s why it’s important to install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors in your home. If you do start to notice any symptoms (lethargy, headache, dizziness flu-like symptoms that come on unexpectedly, etc.) and otherwise have been feeling healthy, get outdoors immediately. If the symptoms subside, it might be carbon monoxide poisoning. If you suspect this, it’s time to call the professionals for help. You’ll want to get examined by a doctor, and upon receiving an all clear, solve the issue in your home.

How Often Should I Replace my Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

Typically, you should replace your detectors once every five to seven years, but there’s a little more to it than that.  Most of the time, these detectors will start emitting a chirping sound at the end of their life that’s different than the chirping sound that means “change my battery.” Thus, most of the time, you only need to replace them when you hear the chirp. Newer, digital models tend to have a digital display of some kind, allowing you to discern when they are malfunctioning.

The good news is that these things are designed to self-monitor and let you know if they detect a problem within. Just in case, you should check the battery  twice a year and test it regularly using the test/reset button. This will ensure the device is working properly when you need it most.

What If I’m Not Sure How to Proceed?

If you don’t want to tackle installing carbon monoxide detectors yourself, or if you suspect something might be wrong with the ones you have, you can call a local service person to assist. If you have a monitored home security system, the technician who installs and maintains that system may be able to help with your carbon monoxide detectors, too. And if you’re interested in monitored home security, get a free quote from Brinks Home™ right away.

Lauren Slade is a Dallas-based writer and editor.

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