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Two ways of testing carbon monoxide detectors at home

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Now, with the regional governments requiring the mandatory installation of carbon monoxide detectors in houses and the improvement of people’s awareness of carbon monoxide poisoning, almost every family has installed carbon monoxide detectors. However, even if a carbon monoxide detector is installed, it is necessary to know whether the detector is operating normally, so it needs to be tested. Today, I will show you how to safely test carbon monoxide detectors at home.

Test with bottled carbon monoxide gas

This is a bottled spray that can be bought in most furniture repair shops and can be purchased online. The price of each bottle is 8~15 dollars, which can be used for several years.

Test method: tightly wrap the carbon monoxide detector and test nozzle with a plastic bag to make the carbon monoxide detector in a closed space. Press and hold the sprayer for about 3 seconds to fill the plastic bag with carbon monoxide gas of sufficient concentration to alarm the detector. If the detector gives an alarm within 15 minutes, it indicates that the detector is normal and the test is successful. If the detector does not give any alarm, you should consider whether the plastic bag is leaking, whether there is a problem with the detector life and battery, or continue to inject carbon monoxide gas into the plastic bag. If the detector still does not respond, it indicates that the detector function is missing, and a new detector should be replaced for further testing.

Test with a long match or wooden kebab

The principle of this method is to ignite one end of the match and then put it into a closed space for combustion. The object needs oxygen for combustion. When the object burns in a closed environment, the oxygen inside will be exhausted. At this time, the combustion lacking oxygen belongs to incomplete combustion and will produce high concentration carbon monoxide (even if the object is very small).

Test method: prepare a glass, a match and a carbon monoxide detector. First, click the test button of the detector, and its reading will be 0; Then burn one end of the match. When the flame is stable, quickly put the detector and match head into the inverted glass, and then observe the reading of the detector. You will find that the reading of the detector will rapidly increase to more than 50ppm within a few seconds, and then trigger the alarm. Of course, you can also replace matches with lit cigarettes. The testing videos are as follows.

Test with cigarettes

Test with tissues

Can I use car exhaust to test the carbon monoxide detector?

Some people will ask,can I test the concentration of carbon monoxide in the garage to check whether the detector is normal. Don’t do that! It is a dangerous idea. The reasons are as follows:

1. In the garage, the concentration of carbon monoxide in the exhaust gas varies from high to low, which will affect the indication of the detector

2. The carbon monoxide gas in the exhaust gas has a large amount of humidity and is discharged through the high-temperature exhaust pipe. High temperature and high humidity can easily damage the carbon monoxide sensor and cause wrong readings

3. The exhaust gas is mixed with many acid gases, which will offset the actual output of the carbon monoxide sensor. Before the test, these moisture and acid gases need to be filtered.

Factors leading to false alarm of carbon monoxide detector

High temperature and high humidity: high temperature and high humidity are easy to damage the sensor and cause false alarm, which is very easy to occur in the kitchen and bathroom.

Low battery power: low battery power will cause the detector to fail to operate normally. Even if it is placed in the carbon monoxide environment with high concentration, it will not sound the alarm due to insufficient battery power.

Interfering gas: most carbon monoxide detectors are sensitive to hydrogen, and acid gas will interfere with the detector’s reading. Therefore, when testing, it is necessary to be in a closed environment to make the tested carbon monoxide gas relatively pure.

Symptoms caused by different carbon monoxide concentrations

When people are in the environment with different concentrations of carbon monoxide, the following corresponding symptoms will appear.

ConcentrationSymptoms
50ppmthe maximum concentration that healthy adults can bear within 8 hours
200 ppm2 ~ 3 hours, slight headache and fatigue
400 ppmForehead pain within 1 ~ 2 hours; Life threatening after 3 hours
800ppmDizziness, nausea and spasm within 45 minutes; Loss of consciousness within 2 hours; Died within 3 hours
1600ppmHeadache, dizziness and nausea within 20 minutes; Died within 1 hour
3200ppmHeadache, dizziness and nausea within 5 ~ 10 minutes; Died within 30 minutes
6400ppmHeadache, dizziness and nausea within 1 ~ 2 minutes; Died within 10 ~ 15 minutes
12800ppmDied within 1 ~ 3 minutes

Installation and maintenance of carbon monoxide detector

At least one detector is installed on each floor of the home

It is preferable to install a CO detector within 10 feet (3.0 m) of the bedroom. If your bedroom has only one floor, it is best to install a detector in each room. If you can, buy a set of detectors that can be interconnected. One sound will sound, and the rest will sound together.

Regular testing and dust removal

Dust will accumulate on the surface of many carbon monoxide detectors, which will affect the reading. You can wipe the dust off the surface regularly, preferably before the monthly test.

Replace your CO detector every 10 years or when the test fails

To make sure you remember how long you’ve been using it, use a permanent marker to write the purchase date on the back or side of the device.

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