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How to Test a Carbon Monoxide Detector

How to test a carbon monoxide detector? Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors can save lives by alerting you to dangerous levels of CO in your home or workplace. These devices are mandatory in Colorado for homes with fuel-burning furnaces, stoves and water heaters, as well as for garages with vehicles or gas-powered tools. But they’re only effective if they work when you need them. And that means testing them monthly, at least, to make sure they’re functioning properly. CO alarms typically use lights to let you know how the unit is performing and whether a battery needs replacing, as well as a test button. Some also have a LCD panel that shows a readout of the detector’s concentration level in parts per million.

Is there an easy way to test for carbon monoxide?

To test a CO detector, press the test button until you hear two beeps or chirps. Repeat this process for every CO detector in your house that you want to assess. Make sure to wear ear protection because the alarms on these devices can be quite loud.

Many CO detectors utilize electrochemical sensors that consist of electrodes submerged in an electrically conductive solution called an electrolyte. When carbon monoxide enters the gas-permeable chamber that houses the sensor, it binds with the chemicals in the electrolyte and causes the current to surge. The specific amount by which the current increases tells the sensor how much carbon monoxide is in the air. Other detectors use metal oxide sensors whose resistance changes in the presence of various gases. This type of detector is less expensive and works in a similar way to smoke detectors.