Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Why is it that when faced with the expense of an annual safety check and furnace or boiler service that we’re so reluctant to spend that money?  Is it because we can’t see or measure the results?  Categorizing those few hundred dollars into ‘discretionary spending‘ rather than “necessity spending” may seem like a perfectly justifiable thing to do until we consider the consequences.

Contact Us

Carbon Monoxide poisoning.  It’s invisible.  Undetectable.  If we notice, it’s because we’re sick or things are dying. Or we’re dying.  Its roulette of epic proportions and often we don’t even know that we’ve bet. Health link BC has a lot to say about it and way down at the bottom is a message about CO detectors.  They are the last line of defense and not a substitute for all the other things you will want to do first.


The most common source of carbon monoxide inside the house in our region is from a failing furnace or boiler.   There is no shortage of sources that detail how important it is to be getting annual service and safety checks, as strongly recommended by Fortis BC, and the GAS SAFETY BRANCH of BC.


CO Detectors should be the last resort.  Once it gets to the point where your carbon monoxide detector is triggered, it’s often too late for options like repair.  The annual safety service will identify parts that are heavily loaded with carbon, starting to disintegrate, reducing the cleanliness and efficiency of the burn and adding build up on all the ignition parts.  If this is ignored year after year, and it’s discovered by the triggering of a CO detector, then there will likely be far too much to repair.


Spending money on service is often avoided since it doesn’t produce obvious results like haircuts or grocery shopping.  The truth is, your family has the option to become aware that the levels of carbon monoxide might be increasing long before they become dangerous.  This is because flue gasses, one of the items that are checked during a service, can be acted upon long before they might vent into the home.


Now if you have a carbon monoxide (CO)detector that’s great. Their purpose is to ensure that gas fired appliances are running at safe combustion levels and not producing excess carbon monoxide that is accumulating inside the home instead of being fully vented.

Do you and your kids know what it sounds like?

If your children are anything like ours, once they get involved in a game, there could be a police siren right next them to them and they would tune it out.  They are usually confident it doesn’t apply to them.  Even the noises that do apply to them don’t seem to matter, like ringing phones, minute timers etc., but they do know what the smoke alarm sounds like and what to do about it.

With the CO detector it should be the same.  Carbon monoxide units all have test buttons on them and its good to press and hold that button for at least 15-30 seconds to really impress on their minds that this pattern of sound is important.  The next test should be, can they hear it from everywhere in the house?  If not, it would be good to establish a list of things for the babysitter to check after she puts kids to bed and before she starts texting for the evening.  Write it down.


Now that they know what it sounds like, do they know what to do if they hear it?  Is it an emergency?  Always.  Resist the impulse to push the reset button because everything seems fine – or worse unplug it.  And remember, carbon monoxide detectors are calibrated to go off before the average adult would experience symptoms.  Children are much more susceptible.


For more information on what an annual service and safety check actually entails, call R&B today.  And if you’re a recipient of our quarterly newsletter, be sure to look for your discount offering.

Contact Us

Discover more articles by R&B Plumbing