Do Carbon Monoxide Detectors Expire?

Do Carbon Monoxide Detectors Expire?

Carbon monoxide is dangerous but very difficult to detect, whether you are a homeowner or a business owner, and its effects can be very serious or even fatal. The most conventional methods for detecting this gas smell like rotten eggs are not exactly pleasant.

Should you need a professional inspection, contact Mr. Electric today! We provide service and installation services on both residential and commercial properties and free in-home estimates.

What Is Carbon Monoxide

To start, it's essential to know what carbon monoxide is and how it can affect you. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that results from the incomplete combustion of natural gas. It is produced by vehicles, stoves, lanterns, grills, fireplaces, gas ranges, and furnaces.

Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to alert your household before the carbon monoxide levels get to a dangerous level. They do this by measuring the amount of carbon monoxide in the air over time and sounding an alarm when it reaches a certain level.

Carbon monoxide detectors are safety devices that measure the amount of carbon monoxide in the air. They come in both plug-in and battery-operated versions and cost about $20 to $50 each. They're available at hardware stores, home improvement centers, and online retailers such as

How do they work? Most have sensors usually made of a chemical called a metal oxide semiconductor, which reacts when it comes into contact with carbon monoxide in the air. It sounds like an alarm alerting you to evacuate the area immediately when it reaches a certain level.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often confused with the flu. Here's what you should know:

  • Headache: A constant, non-migrating headache is the most common symptom of CO poisoning. It's often described as a throbbing, vice-like pain that worsens with movement. The pain may be accompanied by blurry vision, dizziness, and nausea.
  • Fatigue: Fatigue can be so severe that it causes sufferers to sleep through their alarms and wake up hours late for work or school. This symptom is also characterized by drowsiness and lethargy, making it difficult to perform simple tasks.
  • Shortness of breath: Shortness of breath is usually felt when climbing stairs or performing other strenuous activities. Sufferers may also experience chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and lightheadedness. These symptoms are particularly dangerous for those with heart disease or hypertension.

How To Test Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Every month, test your CO detectors by pressing the test button on each one. You should replace your CO detector after five years of use or if it malfunctions during testing.

While carbon monoxide detectors don't have an expiration date like smoke alarms, other factors can determine when you should replace them. Here are the main reasons why you should replace your carbon monoxide detectors:

  • Age. If a detector is more than five years old, it's probably time to replace it. You'll usually see a date stamped on the back of your carbon monoxide detector, or the manual should list when the detector was manufactured.
  • Battery replacement. Carbon monoxide detectors work by using sensors to check the air for CO particles and sounding a loud alarm when they detect a dangerous level of carbon monoxide in the air. If you missed replacing the batteries, or if they're dying out, then your detector won't work if you need it most.
  • Low battery warning. Some carbon monoxide detectors will emit an audible chirping noise when the battery runs low. When you hear this sound, replace the batteries immediately and mark your calendar for six months from now to remind yourself to do it again. You should also consider upgrading to a detector that plugs into an AC outlet and doesn't use batteries (more on that below).

Consult With An Electrician For Proper Carbon Monoxide Installation

Carbon monoxide is an odorless gas produced by incomplete combustion (i.e., tailpipes of cars and space heaters). The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can be mistaken for flu and cold symptoms, so it's essential to have a professional install your carbon monoxide detector and regularly inspect your home. Remember that a working detector doesn't replace the need for regular safety checks!

For more information on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, you can contact Mr. Electric to learn more!

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