Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless flammable gas that is commonly known as “the silent killer’. This gas can be produced from burning gasoline, wood, charcoal or other fuels. Household appliances such as gas ovens, gas ducted heating and stovetops have a possibility of leaking carbon monoxide gas in your home. If these household appliances seem to be faulty or you suspect they are, it’s important to call your local plumbing and gas services immediately to fix the issue and inspect your home for any gas leaks.

Read More: Toowoomba Gas Plumbing Services

Why is carbon monoxide considered a dangerous gas?

Carbon monoxide like we mentioned above is an odorless gas that is difficult to identify without a proper detector. You may be in a room that has a CO leakage but unfortunately you wouldn’t know. Behind the scenes though, the carbon monoxide gas is slowly passing through your lungs entering the red blood cells binding to the hemoglobin in the same place as oxygen. This forms carboxyhemoglobin, which interferes with the transportation and gas exchange of oxygen in the red blood cells starving the body of oxygen. The early symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include;

  • Flu or cold
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Mild headaches 
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Upset stomach
  • Chest pains

The symptoms can then become lethal without treatment and cause permanent damage to the brain and lung tissue and suffocation leading to the loss of lives. This odorless gas claims the lives of hundreds of people in a year. Therefore, to prevent exposure to carbon monoxide you will need to install detectors in your home.

How can you prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?

As much as carbon monoxide is dangerous, there are ways you can prevent getting poisoned by the gas.

  • If you have any household appliances such as gas ovens, stovetops or any other appliance that uses gas your home should be inspected annually by a professional plumbing and gas company. If you suspect any of your appliances may have an issue, you can call us to schedule testing services as soon as possible. Include this in your home maintenance checklist.
  • Ensure your home has proper ventilation as it is quite dangerous to run gas powered appliances in an enclosed room as this can cause suffocation
  • Carbon monoxide is a byproduct of vehicle exhaust and it builds up quickly in enclosed spaces. Therefore, if you want to run your engine to warm it up, it’s best that you do it in an open space and not in your garage.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on every level of your home. This a sure way of keeping you and your family safe.

How do these detectors work?

Carbon monoxide detectors are the fastest way to expose any form of carbon monoxide leakage in your home. If you were to wait until you experience the symptoms of the poisoning, the effects might be too severe. They work similarly to fire or smoke detectors sounding an alarm once the gas is detected. Different types of alarms are triggered by different types of sensors.

  • Biomimetic sensors use a gel to detect CO. The gel changes color when it absorbs carbon monoxide which then sounds the alarm
  • Electrochemical sensors have electrodes in a chemical solution which sense changes in electrical currents when they come into contact with carbon monoxide, and this change triggers the alarm
  • Metal oxide semiconductors silica chip’s circuitry detects carbon monoxide lowering the electrical resistance, and this change triggers the alarm

Where should carbon monoxide detectors be installed?

If you choose to install it yourself, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s installation requirements and recommendations. You should install these detectors;

  • In rooms that contain fuel burning appliances
  • Near your bedroom or sleeping area
  • Near doors that lead to garages
  • Central locations such as hallways
  • They should be one meter away from ovens and boilers

Avoid;

  • Placing them in areas with high humidity levels such as bathrooms
  • Areas with direct sunlight
  • Fireplaces or flame producing appliances
  • Putting them in cupboards or behind furniture

Follow your local laws as well for additional guidance.

How often should you replace your carbon monoxide detector?

It is recommended that you test your carbon monoxide detector regularly at least after every month. If your detector uses replacement batteries, you should change them at least every six months. Though it’s important to note that carbon monoxide detectors don’t last forever and they have a lifetime of 5 to 7 years. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions to get the specific time your detector can last for.

If by any chance your detector goes off, don’t panic and measure sure everyone gets out of the house safely. If you notice any symptoms, call 911 immediately. Don’t go back inside at any point until the alarm goes off or until the responders tell you it’s safe.