Homeowner Tip – Carbon Monoxide Facts And Myths

Homeowner Tip - Time To Put Your Hoses Away

Be SAFE!  Carbon monoxide can kill!

In researching this article, it was interesting to learn about some of the common misconceptions and even some that I had.  As an engineer by training, I thought I knew it all, but evidently (to my wife’s delight) I am incorrect every now and then!

Myth:  You can smell Carbon Monoxide (CO), so I don’t need a CO detector. 

Fact:  Even though sometimes when a gas furnace kicks on I can smell something that makes me think it’s carbon monoxide, I can’t.  Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, and it can kill you.  Likely, what I am smelling when the furnace kicks on is either dust accumulation on the heat exchanger or possibly the results of poor combustion if for some reason the heat exchanger has failed.  Which is not good either, but you definitely need a CO detector if you have a furnace that burns any type of fuel.

Myth:  Carbon monoxide is heavier than air, so I should place my CO detector near the floor.

Fact:  Carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air (0.8 molar mass lighter). That means that CO will likely disperse throughout a room somewhat evenly.  So, mounting a CO detector near the floor is better than none, but if it’s possible, it should be mounted near the ceiling.

Myth:  My CO detector will last a lifetime.

Fact:  Most CO detectors only have a lifespan of around 6 years.  The test button doesn’t test to see if the sensors are working, they only test to see if the battery is working.  So, if the battery is working just fine and the detector is more than 6 years old, you should still consider replacing the detector.

I hope that you’ve found the above helpful and at a minimum it has raised your awareness to a few of the common misconceptions.  Be safe!

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