In this video, This Old House home technology expert Ross Trethewey teaches Kevin O’Connor about low-level carbon monoxide, how standard CO monitors work, and why low-level CO detectors are important healthy and safety devices.
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Ross Trethewey discusses low level carbon monoxide and some of the dangers associated with exposure over a long period of time. Low levels of carbon monoxide read at or under 30 parts per million. In addition to the required UL standard CO and smoke detectors, Ross suggests having a low-level CO monitor.
What is Carbon Monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas produced by the burning of fossil fields such as wood, gas, or oil. The devices in a home responsible for producing carbon monoxide are furnaces, water heaters, boilers, fireplaces and wood stoves, and more. Generally speaking, these devices vent their exhausts outside, keeping the home safe from carbon monoxide.
But carbon monoxide is odorless and tasteless, so it can be tough to detect.
What Happens When Carbon Monoxide is Present?
Carbon monoxide is hazardous, but its effects aren’t typically felt all at once. When it’s present, carbon monoxide will make its way into a person’s bloodstream where the person’s red blood cells will go after the carbon monoxide instead of oxygen.
The results can be nausea, headaches, fatigue, and eventually death.
But, to ensure that homes are safe, most homeowners install carbon monoxide monitors that detect and alert the residents to the presence of carbon monoxide—to a point. They don’t always alert. They have thresholds they have to hit, which often means that carbon monoxide must be present at certain levels for certain amounts of time. When it comes to standard monitors, this could be 70 parts per million for 4 hours.
Anything below 70 parts per million for four hours won’t trigger the alarm, even though those levels are not healthy. Studies have shown that infants, pregnant or immunocompromised individuals, the elderly, and otherwise unhealthy people should not be exposed to those levels.
Low-Level Carbon Monoxide Monitors
To ensure that carbon monoxide is detected, many homeowners opt for low-level carbon monoxide monitors. These devices detect much lower levels of carbon monoxide than standard monitors and display the amount of carbon monoxide present. Depending on the manufacturer, they’ll alert at certain levels so residents are aware of the problem before it’s dangerous.
So, even if the levels are too low for a standard CO detector to alarm, a low-level detector can alert before levels become dangerous.
Zero PPM is Best
Carbon monoxide is not a good thing, so it’s best to keep the levels in our homes at zero. Place a low-level carbon monoxide detector on each floor, in bedrooms, and around fuel-burning appliances for safety.
Where to find it?
There are a variety of low-level CO monitors available online. Defender LL 6170 [https://www.defenderdetectors.com/ll6170.html] manufactured by Defender [https://www.defenderdetectors.com/index.html], and CO EXPERTS Home Safety PRO-10 [https://coexperts.shop/products/home-safety-pro-model-t16] manufactured by CO E XPERTS [https://coexperts.shop/].
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Understanding Low-Level CO Monitors | Ask This Old House