Friday, 2 December 2016

Carbon monoxide detectors save lives, here’s what you need to know

On the back of carbon monoxide awareness week, we thought it would be pertinent to write a blogpost about the importance of carbon monoxide detectors, but in order to do this let’s first go into a little detail about carbon monoxide.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas produced by the incomplete burning of any fuel, including gas, oil or solid fuels. When carbon monoxide enters the body, it prevents the blood from bringing oxygen to cells, tissues and organs. 

Why do you need a carbon monoxide detector?

You can't see it, taste it or smell it, but carbon monoxide can kill quickly without warning or cause serious harm to health if breathed in over a long period of time. In extreme cases paralysis and brain damage can be caused as a result of prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide.  According to statistics from the Health & Safety Executive, every year around 11 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by appliances and flues that have not been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated.

Who needs a carbon monoxide detector?

It is important to stress that it isn’t just gas boilers and appliances that you should safeguard against.  Oil and solid wood burning boilers, fires and stoves also produce carbon monoxide.  Therefore you should have a carbon monoxide detector in every room where a gas, oil or solid wood burning boiler, fire or stove is situated.

How much should you expect to pay for a carbon monoxide detector?

Prices vary and can start from under £10, but tests carried out by Which indicated that you’re more likely to end up with a safe and reliable carbon monoxide detector if you pay around £20 for one which requires disposable batteries or £25 for a detector with a screen and a long-life sealed battery.
Which recommend that you buy a carbon monoxide detector from a leading retail company such as Argos, B&Q, Currys, John Lewis, Homebase, Screwfix or Wickes.

Carbon Monoxide Detector

What types of carbon monoxide detectors are there?


Sealed battery carbon monoxide detectors. This type of detector sounds an alarm when carbon monoxide is detected and is disposable, typically lasting around 8-10 years.  The detector will make a regular sound when it is time to renew the unit. This solution avoids the need to regularly replace batteries.  

Replaceable battery carbon monoxide detectors. These detectors work in the same way as a sealed battery unit, but are usually cheaper as this type of unit requires batteries which should be changed every 12 months.

Smart carbon monoxide detectors.  When this type of unit detects carbon monoxide it sends an alert to your smartphone or device as well as sounding an alarm.  You will pay a premium over the aforementioned detectors as they offer the lasted in smart device connectivity.

Patch carbon monoxide detectors. Which do not recommend to buy such a detector, as rather than sounding an alarm a patch detector relies on you checking to see if the patch has changed colour.  It won’t alert you or wake you should carbon monoxide be present.

Final thoughts

Which recommends to buy carbon monoxide detectors that are loud enough to wake you up (85db or more) and that you test them regularly every month. 

It is also advisable that you have your cooking and heating appliances regularly checked, serviced and installed by a competent plumbing and heating engineer, such as an APHC member.

You can source a qualified APHC Quality Plumber here.

You can read our factsheet ‘Understanding the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide’ here.

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