A Colorado Homeowner's Guide to Carbon Monoxide Detection

You work hard to protect your home from external threats such as storms and intruders. But what about internal risks?

Guide to Carbon Monoxide Detection for CO HomeownersCarbon monoxide gas can be one of the most significant hazards a household may face, especially because the gas is invisible and odorless. In a previous blog, "Everything You Need to Know About Carbon Monoxide Poisoning," we discussed common sources of carbon monoxide and the effects of exposure to this harmful gas.

In this blog, we expand on what you as a homeowner need to know about carbon monoxide detection.

How Is Carbon Monoxide Detected?
In your home, carbon monoxide protection comes in the form of a carbon monoxide detector. These detectors work a lot like your smoke alarms. Essentially, when carbon monoxide is detected, the device sounds an alarm so you can take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family.

Individual carbon monoxide detectors may use different methods to detect the gas. Common types of detection include:

  • Biomimetic-Biomimetic detectors contain a gel that changes color according to the contents of the air it comes in contact with. When the gel is exposed to carbon monoxide and consequently changes color, the alarm goes off.
  • Electrochemical-An electrochemical detector monitors the electrical currents in the air. The presence of carbon monoxide changes the current, triggering the alarm.
  • Metal oxide semiconductor-Metal oxide semiconductor detectors contain a specialized silica chip that is sensitive to carbon monoxide. When the chip senses carbon monoxide, the alarm trips by changing the electrical resistance within the device.

 The type of detection you need may depend on which sources of carbon monoxide are in the vicinity of the detector. Consult with the HVAC experts at HomeSmart from Xcel Energy to determine which detector type (or types) you need in your home.

What Are Your Legal Obligations as a Homeowner?
In 2009, the Lofgren and Johnson Families Safety Act was signed into effect as the result of several carbon monoxide-related deaths. As a homeowner in Colorado, you have a legal obligation to install and maintain carbon monoxide detectors in your home if you have any of the following:

  • Fuel-burning appliances
  • Fuel-burning heater
  • Indoor fireplace

If you have a garage space that has been remodeled, sold, or rented since July 2009, that space must also have at least one carbon monoxide detector.

Each detector is required to be installed within 15 feet of the doorway to a room used for sleeping.

Where Else Should Carbon Monoxide Detectors Be Placed?
In addition to the minimum legal requirements, you may want to place other carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home to decrease the risk of exposure.

Experts recommend installing at least one detector on every floor of your home where people sleep. If you have multiple sleeping areas on the same floor of your home, each area needs its own detector.

People are most vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning while asleep, so start by placing detectors in bedrooms.

You may also decide to include detectors in your kitchen, home office, and dining area as needed.

What Type of Carbon Monoxide Detector Do You Need?
Carbon monoxide detectors come in come in several varieties. In addition to how the detector senses the presence of carbon monoxide, each detector is either powered by batteries or by your home's electrical current.

Battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors are similar to your smoke alarms. These detectors can be attached to any wall or ceiling, as long as they're out of the reach of any children or climbing pets in your home. If you install battery-operated detectors, you will need to test the batteries twice a year and replace them as needed.

Carbon monoxide detectors that use your home's electrical system for power may need to be professionally installed. These models can cost more to put in, but they tend to last longer than their counterparts.

Discuss your budget, detector placement, and priorities with a HomeSmart technician to determine which type of detector you need. You may decide to use a combination of different detector types depending on the condition of your electrical system, your home architecture, and other factors.

How Do You Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

Once you decide where to place your carbon monoxide detectors, battery-operated models can simply be screwed to the ceiling or wall. Be aware of where your ducts and other hidden house systems components are to reduce the risk of damaging other home systems.

If you aren't sure you can safely install a carbon monoxide detector or you prefer a detector model that runs on your home's electricity, discuss your options with a HomeSmart technician.

Use this information to keep your Colorado household safe from the risk of carbon monoxide exposure.

Need new or additional carbon monoxide detectors? Work with the professionals at HomeSmart From Xcel Energy to ensure that you have the best possible protection for your home and family.

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