Trying to decide if you need a carbon monoxide detector in your home even if there are no gas appliances on the property? You’ve come to the right article. Below, I’ll share some of my research on carbon monoxide detectors.
Even if you don’t have any gas appliances on your property, it’s still a good idea to have carbon monoxide detectors. You don’t want to take any chances – carbon monoxide can creep up from any fuel-burning devices. It’s impossible to say with certainty that you’ll never have a fuel-burning device on your property, and for this reason, it’s wise to have a carbon monoxide detector.
In the sections below, we’ll answer some questions about the legality of having carbon monoxide detectors. We’ll also talk about some reasons why every home should have them, regardless of laws.
Note: Carbon monoxide is deadly! If you suspect a carbon monoxide leak, you should leave your house, call 911 and then contact the utility company.
Why Every Home Should Have Carbon Monoxide Detectors
First off, you should be asking yourself: Am I positive I have absolutely no devices that could produce carbon monoxide? There are a bunch of household appliances that burn fuel and can produce carbon monoxide.
These appliances range everything from stoves to refrigerators to dryers to water heaters. And of course, there are cars, small engines, and generators. Before you think about skipping the carbon monoxide detector, take the time to make sure that you don’t have a single thing that could produce carbon monoxide (also known as CO).
However, even if you really don’t have any appliances that could produce carbon monoxide, you should still have CO detectors installed in your home. We’ll talk about why in the next section.
Why You Need CO Detectors Even Without Gas Appliances
By its very nature, carbon monoxide is sneaky. It’s a completely colorless and odorless gas. That means you’ll have no warning other than your carbon monoxide alarm! Some people think they can smell it; however, this is a common mistake.
You can smell gas because manufacturers purposely place a foul smell in the gas to alert people. They are unable to do this with CO because they do not make it; it’s a byproduct of combustion.
Now that you know a little more about CO, here’s why you still need detectors even if you don’t have any gas on the property:
- Small engines.
- Portable stoves.
Those are the reasons. Now let’s look at them in more depth.
CO Coming from a Car in the Garage
Did you know your car produces CO? That’s right. And, if your garage is attached to your house in any way, it could potentially cause carbon monoxide poisoning.
This will only happen if the car is left running, and this is unlikely. However, remember that it only takes one mishap for a disaster to happen. What if you started the car intending to open the garage door and drive out, only to be distracted by a phone call?
If you think it can’t happen, just ask the 40,000 people treated for CO poisoning every year in the USA.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) from Small Engines or Generators
Small fuel-burning engines should never burn in the house. And, if they must be used near the house, it should be for a limited time. In many parts of the country, it’s recommended that generators be a minimum distance away from the house.
Also, if you have a gas-powered generator, make sure you have a battery-powered CO detector; that way, you’re protected if you lose power!
Portable Stoves and Heaters that Produce CO
Anything that burns fuel, like a portable stove, could cause CO emissions. You should never operate a camp stove within your home. Also, there are many outdoor heaters. It’s wise to never bring these into an unventilated area, as you also risk exposure to CO.
If you’re curious to read more about the risks, you can read this article about carbon monoxide from the CDC.
Is It Illegal Not to Have Carbon Monoxide Detectors?
Carbon monoxide detectors are not expensive, so there’s no reason not to have one in your home. If you live in a rented property, it may be illegal to remove these detectors. However, when discussing laws, the only way to know for sure is to contact your local government.
Sometimes there is a difference between laws and building codes. For this reason, you should contact the local fire department and ask about the rules around smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
Even though CO detectors seem mundane, they are there for a reason and could save your life, your family’s life, and even your pets. Nobody is immune from the deadly effects of a CO leak.
Let’s answer some common questions about this topic.
Where Should You Place CO Detectors in Your Home?
As we said, you should talk to the fire department or your utility company to get the most relevant information for your situation. Everyone has a different home. Sometimes, the fire department will even come and inspect your property and let you know exactly where to place CO alarms.
Here are some common places for CO detectors:
- On every floor
- Within earshot of the bedroom
- Not too close to the appliance
Let’s examine more.
CO Alarms on Every Floor
It’s good practice to place a CO detector on every floor of your home. This covers all your bases and ensures that everyone will hear the alarms if they go off. Some people mistakenly only place an alarm near the appliance. If this is in the garage, you might not even hear the alarm before it’s too late.
Carbon Monoxide Alarms Near the Bedroom
One of the most vulnerable things with CO is sleeping. Why? Because you could develop serious symptoms before you wake up. By that time, it’s probably too late. So, it’s wise to place the CO alarm near the bedroom. This could be right outside your door; that way, you’re sure to hear it.
If you have a large home with multiple bedrooms, consider CO alarms near each of them.
Not Too Close to Appliances
Several things can happen if you place a CO detector too close to the gas appliance. First, it may go off even when there’s no danger, as it’s picking up non-harmful traces of CO.
Second, and more importantly, you might not be able to hear it! If the only CO alarm is tucked in your basement next to your water heater, then it might be too far away to wake you in your sleep. Also, it might be too far away from other gas appliances (stoves and dryers) to catch other possible leaks.
The goal is to protect you – alerting you in your sleep if needed.
What’s the Best Kind of Carbon Monoxide Alarm for Your Home?
There are several types of CO alarms. Let’s say this: don’t get lost in the weeds – it’s better to have one than not! However, there are a few things to consider.
Here are several types of CO alarms:
- Battery-backup. You still want the CO alarm to work if the power goes out. There are two sides to this, as many CO alarms run solely on battery power. For this reason, you need to check the batteries about every six months.
- Smoke and CO Combination. Some alarms detect both smoke and CO. These can be nice if you’re doing a new install and don’t want a bunch of extra devices. However, make sure it’s easy to differentiate between the alarm for smoke and the alarm for CO.
- Digital display. Sometimes, you can get CO alarms that tell you how much CO is in the air. This is helpful for responders and those who need to know the specific levels.
Before we go, let’s cover a few common CO poisoning symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Are you curious about what carbon monoxide does to the body? Here’s a quick lesson. When we breathe, we are taking in oxygen. The oxygen travels through our lungs, attaches to blood cells (specifically hemoglobin molecules), and then travels to our entire body.
When carbon monoxide is in the air, it will also bind to our blood cells. The problem? It takes the place of oxygen and pushes oxygen aside. So, CO essentially suffocates its victim.
Here are some symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning:
- Everyone is having the same symptoms!
If you notice everyone in a household suddenly has strange symptoms, get everyone outside into fresh air! However, CO could affect just one person who was near the source.
Alright, now it’s time for our final take.
Conclusion on Installing Carbon Monoxide Detectors Even if You Don’t Have Gas Appliances
Even if your property doesn’t have any gas appliances, it’s still a good idea to have CO detectors installed. You never know if someone who is unaware will bring a gas stove or other small appliance near your home. It’s an inexpensive way to protect yourself from carbon monoxide.
Remember to test and update your CO detectors often and stay vigilant against the signs and symptoms of silent CO poisoning.