CO Detectors: Arm Your Home Against Poisoning

Your Cleveland area home likely has several devices that produce poisonous carbon monoxide (CO) gas, but if your wood stove, furnace or boiler works well, you may never know it. Unfortunately, if CO is leaking into your home, you also may never know it.

Basic Chemistry

Combustion is a chemical reaction between a hydrocarbon (fuel oil, propane, natural gas or wood pellets), oxygen CO Detectors: Arm Your Cleveland area Home Against Lethal Poisoningand a heat source. Ideally, the reaction yields energy, carbon dioxide and water. Regrettably, no furnace, boiler or wood stove is perfect, so some CO is formed in combustion. Unlike its fizz-producing relative, CO is deadly and a little lighter than air.

If properly ventilated through chimneys or stovepipes, CO is not hazardous. But if a person unwittingly breathes in CO from a faulty connection on a furnace or boiler, CO causes oxygen deprivation. This could lead to tissue destruction, brain damage and even death.

CO Detectors

CO detectors come in two varieties: battery powered and hard-wired. Since you should replace all the CO detectors in your house every three to five years (for technological improvements), battery-powered units may offer the greatest flexibility in locating and installing them.

Hard-wired units may need professional installation, but are more reliable than battery models. Both types need continuous sampling to be accurate, so the battery-powered unit has to “reset” its data when batteries are changed.


CO detectors should be on each occupied floor of your Northeast Ohio home. Keep them away from combustion sources (to avoid false alarms), and mount them at least five feet off the floor. Ceiling areas are fine; CO rises on warm air currents and is lighter than air. An excellent position is outside sleeping areas, near your smoke alarm’s location.


If your CO detectors sound, do not ignore them or assume they are faulty. Open windows regardless of weather, get family members and pets out of the house and have your furnace or boiler checked by a professional HVAC contractor as soon as possible.

For more help protecting your family from the dangers of CO poisoning, contact Geisel Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in Cleveland, Ohio about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).  For more information about carbon monoxide and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.

For those Do it Yourselfers who would rather take control of your own indoor comfort, you can shop our online store for replacement parts, products and accessories!

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