What is a Carbon Monoxide alarm ?

A small often portable audible electronic unit for use in the home to detect Carbon Monoxide (CO).

Carbon monoxide alarms are designed and programmed to monitor the ambient air and give an audible alarm when it detects potentially dangerous levels of carbon monoxide.

Alarms alert occupants to high levels of CO which require immediate action and warn of low levels of CO for prolonged periods of time.

What to look for in a Carbon Monoxide Alarm:

CoGDEM recommends that you use an audible electronic CO alarm to detect Carbon Monoxide in your home. Alarms can be battery or mains powered, are easy to install and are very accurate and reliable. CO alarms save lives from this deadly poisonous gas that can occur in homes, offices, places of work, schools and hotels.

CO alarms should be tested and certified to the latest European standard—EN50291 and must have a CE mark. Look for the British Standards Kitemark or LPCB logos on packaging and alarms. CoGDEM does NOT recommend the use of CO patches / indicators as these will not wake you when CO is present.

Where to buy alarms:

CO alarms are widely available from DIY stores, Supermarkets, High Street Stores, Chemists, Gas Retailers and online. EN50291 alarms start from £15 up to £40 depending on additional features such as digital display, type and length of battery life, memory and guarantee period.

Where should I install CO alarms?

You should install a CO alarm in any room that has a fuel burning appliance. In these rooms the CO alarm should be sited on the ceiling at least 300 mm from any wall. You should not install the CO alarm next to any windows / doors / vents.

It is also good practice to have a CO alarm in the bedrooms so that occupants will be alerted while sleeping. In these rooms without a fuel burning appliance, the alarm should be installed at breathing level instead of the ceiling.

Can I install the alarm myself ?

Yes, battery alarms are generally quick and easy to install. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions when installing an alarm.
Mains powered alarms require a qualified electrician to install them.

Replaceable batteries vs sealed batteries alarms?

Quite often people remove or forget to replace batteries which leads to lack of protection within your home. For this reason, CoGDEM recommend that if you are not getting a mains powered alarm, you should purchase a 10 year sealed battery alarm. These alarms are quite simple to install and will last 10 years before requiring replacement.

How often should I test my alarm?

You should always manufacturers guidelines on testing your alarm. CoGDEM would recommend that you test your alarm at least once per month. This is usually a simple press of the test button, but always double check the manual when you buy the alarm.

How do I know if my alarm need replacing?

CO alarms will usually give an audible chirp when they need replacing. It is best to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for this.

If the unit has replaceable batteries, the chirp may indicate that the batteries need replacing, check the manual.

For sealed battery units, chirps usually indicate either depleted battery, a CO sensor fault or that the unit has reached its end of life. In all these cases the unit should be replaced.
Mains powered alarms may chirp if the unit is disconnected from mains and the back-up battery is depleting. If the battery is rechargeable the unit should be connected back to mains. Other chirps may indicate fault or end of life, so its best to check the manual.