PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

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jimmo
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PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by jimmo » Mon May 13, 2019 2:56 pm

In a tragic story, a family of 4 (and their 3 dogs) died in our area recently after exposure to carbon monoxide. No working carbon monoxide detectors in their home. A regular smoke detector won't cut it. Remember it's colorless and odorless so no way of knowing without detector. Cause of the leak was a faulty hot water heater. Do you have the two in one smoke/carbon monoxide detectors or separate for each or none at all? One per floor?

runner3081
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by runner3081 » Mon May 13, 2019 3:01 pm

Two smoke detectors, hard wired. One downstairs and one upstairs.

One carbon monoxide detector downstairs, in the kitchen.

Thinking about it, might need to get another one for the attic, where the furnace is.

FeesR-BullNotBullish
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by FeesR-BullNotBullish » Mon May 13, 2019 3:13 pm

Thanks for posting. A technician discovered our furnace wasn't venting properly, and we had him fix it. That was our wake up call to purchase carbon monoxide detectors. It's pretty harrowing to know that we could have been killed from work that was performed improperly and missed by our inspector prior to us moving in.

miamivice
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by miamivice » Mon May 13, 2019 3:15 pm

runner3081 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:01 pm
Two smoke detectors, hard wired. One downstairs and one upstairs.

One carbon monoxide detector downstairs, in the kitchen.

Thinking about it, might need to get another one for the attic, where the furnace is.
No, you don't need to place the carbon monoxide detectors close to the source. You should place them where people are living.

miamivice
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by miamivice » Mon May 13, 2019 3:16 pm

We just replaced all 8 of our hardwired smoke detectors (13 years old) because they were falsely tripping. When replacing, I decided to replace them with hardwired smoke detectors + carbon monoxide sensors (all 8 of them). They look identical, don't falsely trip and we are safer.

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jimmo
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by jimmo » Mon May 13, 2019 3:17 pm

We currently have one on first floor by gas fireplace. I guess we should add one to basement where furnace and hot water heater is located and/or in upstairs bedroom.

miamivice
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by miamivice » Mon May 13, 2019 3:22 pm

jimmo wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:17 pm
We currently have one on first floor by gas fireplace. I guess we should add one to basement where furnace and hot water heater is located and/or in upstairs bedroom.
I would put them in sleeping quarters rather than near the device. You want to be woken up, when sleeping, due to carbon monoxide regardless of it's source.

smitcat
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by smitcat » Mon May 13, 2019 3:29 pm

A very good safety reminder - we buy them in 20 packs.

TLC1957
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by TLC1957 » Mon May 13, 2019 3:32 pm

As per the National Fire Protection Association


https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/B ... n-monoxide


CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by neilpilot » Mon May 13, 2019 3:40 pm

smitcat wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:29 pm
A very good safety reminder - we buy them in 20 packs.
In 20 packs.....Do you share them throughout the neighborhood?
miamivice wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:16 pm
We just replaced all 8 of our hardwired smoke detectors (13 years old) because they were falsely tripping. When replacing, I decided to replace them with hardwired smoke detectors + carbon monoxide sensors (all 8 of them). They look identical, don't falsely trip and we are safer.
Since smoke detectors typically have a 10 year service life, those 13 yo detectors may have been unreliable for the past 2-3 years. Smoke detectors, as well as the typical CO detector, should be replaced after 10 years of service.

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arcticpineapplecorp.
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by arcticpineapplecorp. » Mon May 13, 2019 3:44 pm

my landlord had them installed a few months ago.
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by smitcat » Mon May 13, 2019 3:45 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:40 pm
smitcat wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:29 pm
A very good safety reminder - we buy them in 20 packs.
In 20 packs.....Do you share them throughout the neighborhood?
miamivice wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:16 pm
We just replaced all 8 of our hardwired smoke detectors (13 years old) because they were falsely tripping. When replacing, I decided to replace them with hardwired smoke detectors + carbon monoxide sensors (all 8 of them). They look identical, don't falsely trip and we are safer.
Since smoke detectors typically have a 10 year service life, those 13 yo detectors may have been unreliable for the past 2-3 years. Smoke detectors, as well as the typical CO detector, should be replaced after 10 years of service.
"In 20 packs.....Do you share them throughout the neighborhood?"
We have about 55 in use now - business, home, boat ,etc.

"Smoke detectors, as well as the typical CO detector, should be replaced after 10 years of service."
Absolutely true and is part of the new laws around us for these devices - there are very clear instructions on where to affix these as well as how high in the room.

btenny
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by btenny » Mon May 13, 2019 3:54 pm

How do you make sure they are working? I have a CO detector inside my downstairs hallway right next to the garage door. Just 7 feet away through that door into the garage is my house heater. Last year I found a giant hole in the exhaust pipe from that heater. So I suspect when the heater ran it spewed some CO out into the garage. The alarm never went off. I pushed the test button and it works. But I am still wondering if the CO detector works. And yes I got the pipes fixed and checked.

Any suggestions? Thanks

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by HereToLearn » Mon May 13, 2019 3:59 pm

miamivice wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:16 pm


"Smoke detectors, as well as the typical CO detector, should be replaced after 10 years of service."
Absolutely true and is part of the new laws around us for these devices - there are very clear instructions on where to affix these as well as how high in the room.
The CO detector plugged in near the hot water heater and oil burner in the basement started emitting a rather annoying piercing beep when its ten year battery had expired. We also have a hard-wired smoke detector on each of the three floors, and could not figure out where the noise originated. We replaced batteries in two of the smoke detectors before we finally found the CO detector. The CO detector had been there so long that I had forgotten about it, but good to know they now beep after ten years.

I have another CO detector in the kitchen, but will now move it up to the bedroom floor after reading this helpful reminder.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Mon May 13, 2019 4:01 pm

We started using carbon monoxide detectors when we first installed fireplace logs using LP. Haven't ever been without them since.

Being in a wheelchair I have a phobia about fire and carbon monoxide. We have fire extinguishers throughout the first floor that I have access to use if necessary.

The various monitors are a cheap, lifesaving tool. Not a place to cheap out.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by jfn111 » Mon May 13, 2019 4:04 pm

We replaced our 4 smoke detectors with combo units. Cheap piece of mind.

suemarkp
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by suemarkp » Mon May 13, 2019 5:40 pm

I've never had a CO detector go off, and have heard that you need a quite high level for them to trigger. I think they will keep you from dying, but a low level long term CO leak my not be detected while everyone has mysterious headaches.

You could test by putting them by the car exhaust in the garage. I'm curious how long it would take for it to go off. Even better, use something like a lawn mower exhaust which has no catalytic converter to turn CO to CO2.

We have a law here in WA that when you sell you house it must have compliant CO detectors (one on each level, and outside the sleeping area(s)). Seemed kind of stupid for my one house that was all electric since we had no gas service available. But I guess there are those that bring generators and charcoal grills inside...
Mark | Kent, WA

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Watty
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by Watty » Mon May 13, 2019 8:53 pm

Just FYI, in addition to smoke and CO detectors they also make inexpensive water detectors that will sound if there is a water leak like from a water heater or washing machine. Ours is connected to our alarm system so we will get a text message if we are away from home.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by Big Dog » Mon May 13, 2019 9:24 pm

we have one in an upstairs bedroom, whose door is always open. City code requires at least one.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by lazydavid » Mon May 13, 2019 9:33 pm

We have seven combo units (1st generation Nest Protects). One in each of the three main bedrooms (other two bedrooms are a dedicated office, and a basement bedroom that has been slept in for 4 nights in 5 years), one each in the upstairs hallway, kitchen, dining/front room, and the main area of the basement.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by RickBoglehead » Mon May 13, 2019 9:37 pm

suemarkp wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 5:40 pm
I've never had a CO detector go off, and have heard that you need a quite high level for them to trigger. I think they will keep you from dying, but a low level long term CO leak my not be detected while everyone has mysterious headaches.

You could test by putting them by the car exhaust in the garage. I'm curious how long it would take for it to go off. Even better, use something like a lawn mower exhaust which has no catalytic converter to turn CO to CO2.

We have a law here in WA that when you sell you house it must have compliant CO detectors (one on each level, and outside the sleeping area(s)). Seemed kind of stupid for my one house that was all electric since we had no gas service available. But I guess there are those that bring generators and charcoal grills inside...
Really bad idea.
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by baconavocado » Mon May 13, 2019 10:26 pm

Has anyone DIY-d the swap of older smoke detectors for the new combo smoke/CO detectors? Looks like it would be pretty straightforward. I noticed that the company that makes our smoke detectors now makes a combo unit. I don't know if they would be compatible with the CPU in our alarm system, which is vintage ~2000.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by Sandtrap » Mon May 13, 2019 10:39 pm

CO detectors each of 3 floors.
Water leak/flood detector on ground floor and also in laundry room and utility room.
Combo detectors in each stairwell and foyer.
CO and other detectors in garage, interlink to house detectors.
All detectors linked wireless or wired so if one goes, they all go.
(when a battery goes bad or detector faults . . . it is "loud everywhere" . . . why does this only happen between 2-3 in the morning when you are sound asleep?)

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by fposte » Mon May 13, 2019 11:00 pm

One on the first floor, one on the second. They’re labeled with month and date of installation so I know when they’re past it.

I do wish that there were better recycling options for superannuated CO and smoke alarms, though.

mancich
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by mancich » Tue May 14, 2019 4:12 am

Two carbon monoxide detectors and 6 interconnected smoke detectors - one goes off, they all go off. . Fun when my DW gets too aggressive with her cooking :D

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by jason1 » Tue May 14, 2019 7:22 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:39 pm
why does this only happen between 2-3 in the morning when you are sound asleep?)
Chemical reactions slow in the cold, so a battery is weakest in the middle of the night after the house cools.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by goblue100 » Tue May 14, 2019 7:26 am

TLC1957 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:32 pm
As per the National Fire Protection Association


https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/B ... n-monoxide


CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
Thanks for that. I have one, sounds like I should "invest" in one more.
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by miamivice » Tue May 14, 2019 7:42 am

neilpilot wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:40 pm
smitcat wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:29 pm
A very good safety reminder - we buy them in 20 packs.
In 20 packs.....Do you share them throughout the neighborhood?
miamivice wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:16 pm
We just replaced all 8 of our hardwired smoke detectors (13 years old) because they were falsely tripping. When replacing, I decided to replace them with hardwired smoke detectors + carbon monoxide sensors (all 8 of them). They look identical, don't falsely trip and we are safer.
Since smoke detectors typically have a 10 year service life, those 13 yo detectors may have been unreliable for the past 2-3 years. Smoke detectors, as well as the typical CO detector, should be replaced after 10 years of service.
Oh mine worked. We (she) tested them out on a regular basis while making dinner....

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by miamivice » Tue May 14, 2019 7:44 am

baconavocado wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:26 pm
Has anyone DIY-d the swap of older smoke detectors for the new combo smoke/CO detectors? Looks like it would be pretty straightforward. I noticed that the company that makes our smoke detectors now makes a combo unit. I don't know if they would be compatible with the CPU in our alarm system, which is vintage ~2000.
Yes, that is what we did. It was straightforward.

criticalmass
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by criticalmass » Tue May 14, 2019 7:57 am

miamivice wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:15 pm
runner3081 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:01 pm
Two smoke detectors, hard wired. One downstairs and one upstairs.

One carbon monoxide detector downstairs, in the kitchen.

Thinking about it, might need to get another one for the attic, where the furnace is.
No, you don't need to place the carbon monoxide detectors close to the source. You should place them where people are living.
You put detectors where people are living AND by a potential source. If a gas appliance is dumping CO into the area around it because of a broken connection, flue, etc. it is important to know that the area (e.g. attic, utility room, basement, etc.) is full of CO so you don’t enter the location unaware.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by criticalmass » Tue May 14, 2019 8:05 am

Consumer grade CO detectors certified by UL have fairly high level and continuous time thresholds for triggering the alarm. This is to prevent false alarms, which would lead to folks disconnecting the alarms.

You don’t want the alarm firing every time someone puts a big pot of cold water on the gas stove to cook spaghetti, for example, even though this temporarily produces a lot of CO.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by baconavocado » Tue May 14, 2019 8:15 am

miamivice wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 7:44 am
baconavocado wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 10:26 pm
Has anyone DIY-d the swap of older smoke detectors for the new combo smoke/CO detectors? Looks like it would be pretty straightforward. I noticed that the company that makes our smoke detectors now makes a combo unit. I don't know if they would be compatible with the CPU in our alarm system, which is vintage ~2000.
Yes, that is what we did. It was straightforward.
Thanks. I might give it a try.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by k3vb0t » Tue May 14, 2019 10:03 am

All of our smoke detectors are high up on the wall or in the ceiling. For those that are installing combo units (smoke/CO), are they located at a high height?

I thought you wanted CO down low to the ground because that's where it starts to accumulate and if it was high up on the wall it's already overtaken normal sleeping heights?

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by smitcat » Tue May 14, 2019 10:33 am

k3vb0t wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:03 am
All of our smoke detectors are high up on the wall or in the ceiling. For those that are installing combo units (smoke/CO), are they located at a high height?

I thought you wanted CO down low to the ground because that's where it starts to accumulate and if it was high up on the wall it's already overtaken normal sleeping heights?
Our fire Marshal explained that the CO detectors need to be placed at about 5'. central to an occupied room, and not interconnected.
Our smoke detectors are placed on the ceiling , both in occupied rooms and near potential sources, and are interconnected.
YMMV

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by Minty » Tue May 14, 2019 10:59 am

btenny wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 3:54 pm
How do you make sure they are working? I have a CO detector inside my downstairs hallway right next to the garage door. Just 7 feet away through that door into the garage is my house heater. Last year I found a giant hole in the exhaust pipe from that heater. So I suspect when the heater ran it spewed some CO out into the garage. The alarm never went off. I pushed the test button and it works. But I am still wondering if the CO detector works. And yes I got the pipes fixed and checked.

Any suggestions? Thanks
You can buy CO test spray on Amazon and elsewhere (never used it myself so can't vouch). But I hope your CO alarm did not go off in spite of a leak because you have a good seal on the door between your garage and the living space of your house. Such a seal is required by code at least in the places where I've lived recently.

And thanks to Bogleheads for this tip; based on another thread, I replaced a bunch of 12 year old detectors with a mix of ionization and photoelectric detectors. I also benefitted from the Kidde Fire Extinguisher Recall thread (had those, got a bunch of new ones free) and the warning about the need for replacement of tires based on age (I had a 25-year-old spare in one car).
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by megabad » Tue May 14, 2019 11:02 am

Great reminder. I have more CO detectors than smoke detectors in the house. Basically one in every room that isn’t a bathroom. I mostly used the ones that plug into the outlet and then I stick them to the wall about 4 feet high. I get complaints about them being ugly but I know for a fact they work because we had a furnace problem that tripped the one in the master bedroom. Better safe than stylish

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by finite_difference » Tue May 14, 2019 11:09 am

For the case in question, it sounded like it was caused by an incorrectly installed or designed tankless water heater.

It was a DIY job too I think.

If you are going to DIY a water heater or furnace or AC or stove, etc. make sure you get it inspected by a professional and get the necessary permits and follow all codes and instructions (properly). Codes and permits exist for a reason, and that reason is not just to extract money from you.

Extremely sad case.
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by RetiredAL » Tue May 14, 2019 11:30 am

I strongly recommend buying a CO unit that talks. This is to avoid confusing it with a smoke alarm.

People have become accustomed to looking for smoke when smoke alarm triggers. No smoke, or smoke from a known source, does not trigger a flight response.

CO is invisible and odorless, and is likely to present without any other combustion/smoke odors. A CO alarm requires immediate evacuation for your safety.

The biggest risk for CO in a home is a cracked or otherwise defective heat exchanger inside your furnace, where the blower is moving it around the house. Thus the recommended location is in or adjacent to the bedrooms.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by GlennK » Tue May 14, 2019 2:33 pm

I have three hard wired smoke detectors (semi-finished basement, first floor hallway, and 2nd floor hallway). I also have two carbon monoxide detectors. These are placed in my 1st floor dinette and the 2nd floor hallway. These were recently replaced after one of the two carbon monoxide detectors simply quit working (no lights). They were approximately 10 years old.

I periodically test my smoke detectors also (not just push the button, but with actual smoke).

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by iamlucky13 » Tue May 14, 2019 2:44 pm

I guess I should take this thread as a reminder: Our CO detector decided to start issuing a malfunction chirp recently. Just like fire alarms, it only does this in the middle of the night. According to the label, the chirp sequence was not a low battery, but a failed self-diagnostic. Since we were done with our wood stove for the year, I just unplugged it and pulled the battery.

I've got until October before we start burning again, but I wouldn't want to forget to buy a replacement.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by mpnret » Wed May 15, 2019 9:36 am

3 wired Nest Protect combo smoke/carbon monoxide. One on each floor. Also additional standalone natural gas and carbon monoxide detectors in utility room.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by Swansea » Wed May 15, 2019 9:46 am

k3vb0t wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:03 am
All of our smoke detectors are high up on the wall or in the ceiling. For those that are installing combo units (smoke/CO), are they located at a high height?

I thought you wanted CO down low to the ground because that's where it starts to accumulate and if it was high up on the wall it's already overtaken normal sleeping heights?
My local fire dept. installed smoke and CO detectors in my home. CO detectors were placed about a foot or two off the floor.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by fizxman » Wed May 15, 2019 10:15 am

mpnret wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 9:36 am
3 wired Nest Protect combo smoke/carbon monoxide. One on each floor. Also additional standalone natural gas and carbon monoxide detectors in utility room.
We have two Nest Protects, but battery operated, not hardwired. One is outside all of the bedrooms and the other is at the top of the stairs in the kitchen that leads to the basement. Getting alerts via the phone app is nice. We switched to them after my wife went home one day and the smoke alarm was going off but there wasn't any smoke. Turns out the smoke alarm was just really old. Felt really bad for our dog.

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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by Info_Hound » Wed May 15, 2019 11:52 am

Thanks for the reminder to check your CO and smoke detectors!

Remember if you already have them installed, those batteries do not last forever, change out the old with fresh batteries at least once a year. My local fire department suggests every 6 months. It's also a good time to get rid of any dust bunny/webs that may have formed since the last time you swapped out batteries. These cause false alarms for certain types of detectors, the dust drifts over the detector beam breaking the connection and tripping the alarm.

If you think you have crickets that you can't see or find, check your detectors, they signal low batteries by chirping.

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Nicolas
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Re: PSA: Do you have working carbon monoxide detectors?

Post by Nicolas » Wed May 15, 2019 12:37 pm

Yes, three. One for each floor.
It was a new day yesterday. It’s an old day now.

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