There is no question that carbon monoxide detectors save lives. Some states even require that all homes with gas appliances be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. All existing and new home owners, with gas appliances, should plan on having a working alarm system that includes monitored carbon monoxide detectors. Non monitored detectors should alert you if you are at home, but will do little good when your pets are home alone.
New Changes Mandated
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has made changes. The February 28, 2008 edition of the Single and Multiple Station Carbon Monoxide Alarm standard now requires that all CO alarms produced after August 1, 2009 must have an “End of Life” signal. This signal must activate once the detector reaches its projected end-of-life cycle. This expected “End of Life” cycle depends on the design of the CO device and will vary from one model to another.
A CO alarm will have three (3) signals – alarm, trouble, and end-of-life. Activation for a CO alarm would be a series of four (4) rapid beeps followed by a five (5) second pause and then repeating. A trouble signal, indicating some type of fault or low battery, is a ½ second beep every 30 – 60 seconds – just like a low battery on a smoke alarm. The end-of-life signal may be a distinct signal or the same signal as a trouble alarm, providing that there is a visual indicator on the CO alarm to indicate that it is an end-of-life alarm.
Depending on the manufacturer, some end-of-life signals can be silenced for up to 30 days, others cannot. What is important is that when an end-of-life signal is sounded, the CO alarm must be replaced. This is true if the unit is a standalone CO alarm, or in a combination unit with a smoke alarm.
Many CO alarms now in service were made prior to the incorporation of the new requirements and will not have an end-of-life signal. As a result, many of these alarms may not function, now, as designed.
If your alarm does not have the end-of-life feature, was manufactured prior to August 2009, or you cannot find a manufactured date (located on the outside back of the alarm) consult any paperwork that came with the unit or research the company’s website for further information. If none can be found, then serious consideration should be given to replacing the CO alarm.
Remember, that monitored carbon monoxide detectors can save not only your life, but also the life of your family, friends and pets.