Carbon Monoxide Detection

The leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in America is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that is almost impossible to detect until it’s too late.


Carbon monoxide (CO) can poison you before you’re even aware it’s in your home. Exposures of as little as 100 parts per million (the equivalent to one drop of water diluted into 50 liters) can be dangerous and even fatal if there is prolonged exposure.


Any appliance in your home that burns gas such as heaters, furnaces and cooking equipment can generate CO. Problems can occur if an appliance breaks or is damaged. Even something as simple as a small leak in a pipe in the attic can quickly fill a home with hazardous levels of CO.


The good news: Installing a CO detector can identify problems quickly and easily. 

A Colorless, Odorless Gas

Because it is impossible to see, taste or smell, CO can poison you before you are aware it is in your home. Common symptoms include:

  1. Headaches
  2. Vertigo and dizziness
  3. Nausea and fatigue
  4. Chills, fever and coughing

At higher levels, CO poisoning can be fatal, causing damage to the central nervous system and the heart. It can also have severe effects on the fetus of a pregnant woman. The greatest danger is to people who are sleeping in areas where large quantities of the gas have built up in confined spaces.

Potential Sources of Carbon Monoxide within a Home

    1. Unvented kerosene and gas space heaters
    2. Leaking chimneys and furnaces
    3. Back-drafting from furnaces, gas water heaters, wood stoves, and fireplaces
    4. Gas stoves
    5. Generators and other gasoline-powered equipment
    6. Automobile exhaust from attached garages
    7. Worn or poorly adjusted and maintained combustion devices (boilers, furnaces) if the flue is improperly sized, blocked, disconnected, or leaking

Guidelines for CO Detector Installations

    Installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home is an important way to protect the safety of you and your family. Here are some guidelines you can follow:

    1. Experts recommend you have one carbon monoxide detector for every level of your house
    2. If the levels of your home are large or spread out, install one at each end of the level
    3. Install the detectors outside bedrooms or sleeping areas and mechanical rooms

This publication provides general information and/or recommendations that may apply to many different situations or operations. Any recommendations described in this publication are not intended to be specific to your unique situation or operation and are not intended to address all possible hazardous conditions or unsafe acts that may exist. Consult with your staff and specialists to determine how and whether the information in this publication might guide you in specific plans for your situation or operations. Additionally, this article does not substitute for legal advice, which should come from your own counsel.