Carbon monoxide (known by its chemical abbreviation CO) is often called the “silent killer”. This toxic gas can be produced when fuel-operated devices or other common household appliances do not function properly. Carbon monoxide is odorless and cannot be detected visually with the naked eye, but it can be fatal, even in relatively small doses. In cases that do not cause death, carbon monoxide gas can cause long-term health problems in the vascular system and lungs. By knowing the cause and signs of its presence, purchasing and installing a CO detector properly, and performing constant monitoring, you can prevent the accumulation of harmful carbon monoxide in your home.
Method 1 of 3: Installing a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Step 1. Purchase a CO detector
You can buy it at a home improvement store or major retail store. The price ranges from Rp. 150,000 to Rp. 250,000.
Step 2. Consider optional features
There are several features that you should consider when making a purchase.
- The CO detector must be able to produce a sound of at least 85 decibels which can be heard within 3 meters without difficulty. If someone in your family has a hearing problem, you may need to turn the sound louder.
- Several detectors are sold as a set and can be connected to each other. If one detector beeps, the other detectors in the circuit will beep as well. This option is ideal for large homes.
- Check the sensor life as it can wear out. Detector sensor elements must have a minimum service life of 5 years.
- Some detectors are equipped with a digital display panel that will accurately display the amount of carbon monoxide detected in the air. This feature is not a must, but it can help detect the accumulation of harmful toxic gases more quickly.
Step 3. Determine the exact installation location
For small apartments, you can install one detector, but if there are more than 3 rooms, you will need to install several detectors. You must choose a strategic location where carbon monoxide can accumulate.
- CO gas is lighter than air so it tends to build up on the ceiling. Place the detector on the wall, as close to the ceiling as possible.
- If your home has multiple floors, you will need to install at least one detector on each floor. Place one detector in each area near the bedroom.
- Do not install the detector in the kitchen or garage. In these areas carbon monoxide tends to spike over a short period of time, but is harmless, and will trigger unnecessary alarms.
Step 4. Understand the display and sound panel settings
Display and sound panel settings vary widely, depending on the make and model. So you should read the manual thoroughly. Most digital panels will display a number indicating the amount of CO in parts per million (PPM) and some models have a timer to indicate the length of the test. Many models also feature volume control, backlight options and an auto mute feature.
Step 5. Install the detector
You should be able to find the installation manual with the device. Make sure you have all the equipment you need when you go to the store to buy a detector. So you don't have to go back and forth.
- Make sure you have a sturdy ladder that will allow you to install at the highest part of the wall.
- Most likely you will need an electric drill. Screws are usually included with the device.
Step 6. Replace the battery
Some devices are electrically connected, but most are powered by batteries. The device should beep when the battery is low. Make sure you always have the spare battery you need.
Method 2 of 3: Knowing the Warning Signal Without a Detector
Step 1. Recognize the health symptoms of carbon monoxide
CO poisoning poses serious, even deadly, health risks. The symptoms associated with CO poisoning can be difficult to distinguish from the symptoms of other types of poisoning, but there are some signs you should watch out for.
- The main symptoms of CO poisoning include headache, muscle weakness, dizziness, nausea, difficulty breathing, mental confusion, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness.
- If you notice all of these symptoms at the same time, get outside to get some fresh air and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Step 2. Detect moisture and dew accumulation
If you see signs of condensation on the surface of the table or on the inside of the window pane, this could be an indication of CO accumulation. Humidity in the house can be caused by several different things. So, you don't need to panic when you see it. However, you should be alert if you have medical symptoms or see other signs of accumulation.
Step 3. Pay attention to the indicator light that often goes out
If the indicator light on your water heater or gas stove goes out frequently, flickers, or emits a strange light, this could be a sign of CO accumulation in the air. However, it can also be a sign of a faulty indicator light. So, there is no need to panic, unless you also see accompanying medical symptoms. In either case, contact a plumber or electrician immediately for a closer inspection of the device.
Step 4. Watch the engine run on fuel indoors
Cars, electric generators, or other devices with motors that burn oil will emit large amounts of CO gas. Do not run the car engine in the garage with the doors closed or you will experience serious and potentially fatal CO poisoning in a matter of minutes.
If you have symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and find the combustion engine running, get out into the open for some fresh air and seek immediate medical attention
Method 3 of 3: Preventing Carbon Monoxide Accumulation
Step 1. Make sure the air vents are not clogged
Carbon monoxide can accumulate if the air vents in your home are not working properly. Check the air conditioning engine vents to make sure no dust and other debris has accumulated in them.
- You don't need to clean the vents if you don't see any accumulated dirt. At least once a year, remove the vent cover to check for debris trapped in the vent.
- When you clean the vent, remove the cover with a screwdriver. Place the cover under running water to remove dust. Then, wipe with a paper towel. Use another paper towel to dry the cover before you put it back on.
Step 2. Clean the chimney (if you have one)
A clogged chimney is one of the main causes of CO accumulation. Even if you only use the chimney once or twice a year, you should clean it once a year. If the fireplace is used at least once a week, you should clean it every 4 months.
- You won't be able to clean your chimney properly without the right tools. If you don't have a brush with an extendable stem and know how to use it, it's best to hire a professional.
- It's a good idea to remove any visible soot from the fireplace to prevent the build-up of carbon monoxide. Use a tough cleaning product such as ammonia to spray the inside of the fireplace, then scrub with a wire brush. If you use corrosive chemicals, wear a surgical mask to protect your face while working.
Step 3. Check the cookware
Cookware, especially ovens, can also emit CO gas. If you use your oven regularly, try to check it at least every two weeks to prevent soot buildup. Use ammonia and an abrasive brush to clean it if it gets dirty.
- If you notice that soot tends to accumulate easily, we recommend calling a professional electrician to have it checked.
- Small appliances like toasters can also emit harmful amounts of carbon dioxide. Check for soot around the heating element and clean it if necessary.
Step 4. Smoke detector
If you smoke, go outside to smoke. Continuous smoking for long periods of time indoors, plus a poor ventilation system or other risk factors can lead to serious carbon monoxide accumulation.