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Carbon Monoxide detectors

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We have one in the ceiling of the basement. Every time my wife does extensive cooking such as canning etc with the oven, it will set the detector off. I'm wondering if the detector is just old and clogged making it very sensitive, or if the oven is putting out too much CO. We actually had the fire department out once and they said it should not be going off that much and they did a quick sniffer test on the oven and said it was OK but they really didn't have the more precise gear to verify it was working perfectly.

So, do they get old and need replaced?

If I replace it should I have these on every floor or just in the basement? I thought CO was heavy and sunk making the basement the ideal place for it?

Any thoughts on top performing brands for residential?


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Yes, the sensors do deteriorate and they should be changed at 5 year intervals. No CO detector should detect below 30ppm, and in reality they take some time to signal.

The current laws require them to be installed within 15 feet of the door of a sleeping room. The laws (code) apply to new construction since about 2009 (depending on adopted code), commercial and before you can sell a house.

CO is lighter than air. The best places for CO detectors are at the top of stairs and at least one near a heating supply register. I have one on the basement ceiling near the gas appliances along with a methane gas detector and one in each of the bedrooms. We have wired and wireless (in our alarm system).

My preference is for the Honeywells that run on the CR123 batteries. The battery and the detector last for at least 5 years, but at 5 years, it will start to chirp at you meaning it needs to be replaced. They are not cheap, in the range of $90 or so, but I think they offer the best combination of features.

Let me know if you have more questions. Being one of a handful of forensic engineers that works on CO poisoning cases in the country, most of which are fatal, I have some strong opinions related to CO detectors, one of which is that the plug in ones do not offer enough "foolproof" protection. I have actually worked on several fatal cases where the plug in ones were removed for one reason or another and then there was a death.

If you know an appliance repairman with a good CO detector, borrow it for a few days and run some tests. The cheapest ones you can get to do your own test are about $150 to $200. Your FD should have at least one actual digital indicator and not just bunker gear alarms. Surprised they did not have that.

Edited by MarkCO
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