The wisdom of reusing and recycling doesn’t extend to your carbon monoxide (CO) and smoke detectors. Both of these have limited lifetimes, and like bicycle helmets and child car seats involved in accidents, it’s better to replace detectors than risk failure.
How Long They Last
Smoke detectors typically last 10 years and CO detectors seven years. Their manufacturing date is usually stamped somewhere on the bottoms of the detectors. If they’re getting close to their expiration dates and need new batteries, it’s a good idea to replace the detectors as well.
Although the manufacturing dates are generally accurate, they’re not foolproof. If the test button fails to make it chirp after replacing the batteries, throw it away and replace it immediately. The alarms are inexpensive and do save lives and property.
The batteries for CO detectors have much shorter lifetimes than smoke detectors. Since CO is undetectable without an alarm, it’s better to be extra cautious by checking their batteries monthly. Make it a point to check the smoke detectors every three months.
Choosing New Detectors
When you need to replace detectors, look for those with the UL (Underwriter’s Laboratory) label. You can find plug-in detectors with battery backups and those that connect to home security systems.
You may also want to use CO detectors that show periodic readouts of CO levels if you have aging gas appliances. They show levels above a specific CO threshold throughout a 24 hour period. These types show you when the furnace may be malfunctioning, the water heater vent is clogged, or CO is building from cooking or baking.
Smoke and CO both rise and the detectors should be placed higher on the walls, but CO detectors require specific positioning away from combustion appliances, exterior doors, drafts and humid areas.
As temperatures continue to fall, it’s important to replace detectors before their useful lives are over. For more information, contact Arpi’s Industries, providing trusted HVAC services for Calgary-area homeowners.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Calgary, Alberta about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Guide.