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Carbon monoxide detectors: Things you need to know

Why does it keep beeping?
Why does it keep beeping?
Morguefile / jppi

Some states require that all homes have a working carbon monoxide detector in them. Some even require that several be placed close to individual sleeping areas. Do you know if your state requires you to have one in your home? If not, you can check here to find out. Carbon monoxide detectors will detect gases you cannot smell, but can be deadly to you and your family if you remain in the house.

I had a first-hand experience with a beeping detector and let me tell you it can be scary. Fresh batteries did not silence the unit, so I called my fire chief. He informed me that the fire department did not have the equipment to check for carbon monoxide. They are a small volunteer organization with limited funds. He advised me to call a heating and cooling company.

I called a local heating and cooling guy, only to be told he didn’t have any equipment to test for the deadly gas either. All the while, I am standing in my yard with my dogs, listening to this alarm beep. He did advise that I grab the unit and bring it out to fresh air. It kept beeping, so he suggested it may be a faulty unit. Out of options, I ran to town, with my dogs in tow, and bought a new unit. The new one did not start beeping, much to my relief.

According to research most carbon monoxide detectors are designed to only last a certain amount of years, depending on the brand. The brand I had was a Kiddie. Kiddie stated that their units have a shelf life of seven years. They are designed to start beeping at the seven year mark and won’t silence even with fresh batteries.

They are designed to do that to warn the consumer that their life has ended. They are no longer working when this “death beep” begins. It is a safety feature to insure you purchase a new one. In 2009, the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) required that all carbon monoxide detectors have this “end of life” safety feature. Kiddie has been using it for their alarms since 2001.

So, back to the question of who actually comes to your home to check if your carbon monoxide alarm goes off? Larger fire departments in bigger cities probably have a unit to test for this deadly fume. Consumers should check to make sure their fire department has it. If you live in a smaller area, you may need to check other places to see who can test your home in case of an emergency.

Call the company that services your furnace and ask them if they have the equipment to test for carbon monoxide. A small local company I called did not, but when I called my regular furnace company, a few towns away, I was told that they do have the equipment to test for carbon monoxide. I have since put that number in my cell phone, so I will have it in case I am ever standing in my yard with a beeping monitor going off in my house again.

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