5 top tips for optimum CO alarm installation

5 top tips for optimum CO alarm installation

To mark Carbon Monoxide Awareness Week 2016, Adrian Keats at Honeywell’s Home Safety business offers his top tips for optimum CO alarm installation.

CO poisoning is a serious issue. It is estimated that over 4,000 people per year are diagnosed by A&E as having been poisoned by carbon monoxide, a figure which experts believe is likely to be far lower than the reality, as many cases go undetected.

With this in mind, it’s crucial that installers explain the dangers of CO to their customers whenever a gas or any fuel burning appliance is installed, and provide guidance on defence against the dangers of carbon monoxide.

As we enter CO Awareness week, we’ve put together the below top tips for CO alarm recommendations and installation.

1: Alarm, not colour change spot detectors

When it comes to explaining CO protection to customers, you may find that they either already have, or enquire about, a colour change spot CO detector. In these scenarios, it’s important to explain why this is an inadequate solution.

The core issue is that these spot detectors provide no audible warning. Usually, the presence of CO is signified by a colour change on the detector, but this is insufficient for a number of reasons. Firstly, no matter how prominently the detector is located, the nature of passing something every day means that it soon fades into the background, and even if a colour change is triggered, there is every chance a homeowner will fail to notice.

Secondly, if there is a major CO leak during the night, then the detector is effectively redundant. In a house with a high concentration of CO in the air, residents could lose consciousness, and if everyone in the house is already asleep, this could be fatal.

They also need to be regularly replaced, typically every 3-6 months, or they become ineffective. This therefore increases the level of maintenance required and naturally the cost.

These detectors provide homeowners with a dangerous sense of false security and therefore should always be avoided and advised against.

2: BSI Kitemark

With homeowners able to browse for products online, installers may be faced with clients who want to opt for the cheapest alarm available.

However, with a device as crucial as a CO detector, quality has to come first because, more often than not, you get what you pay for.

In fact, a recent Which? study found that as many as 1 in 5 CO alarms could be unreliable.

Of the sixteen brands tested by Which?, three were deemed to be ‘dodgy’, and crucially, these three were the only alarms in the group which did not carry the BSI kitemark.

Whilst customers may be tempted to cut corners, it’s important that installers communicate why choosing a well-established brand which is BSI certified: EN50291-1 2010 / EN50291-2 2010, is an absolute must.

3: Siting

Although choosing a high quality alarm is vital, even the best alarm can be made less effective by incorrect siting.

For optimum efficiency, a CO alarm should be positioned high up in room typically 30 centimetres from the ceiling, and a metre away from boilers, fires, cookers or heaters. It can be fixed to the wall or free-standing on a shelf, as long as the recommended positioning requirements are met.

In terms of how many alarms are required, it’s best to recommend a CO alarm in every room housing a fuel burning appliance, and for proper protection, an alarm in any bedrooms which may be above these, too.

4: Connected systems

For the greatest level of security, connected home safety systems are an excellent recommendation.

These connect smoke, heat and CO alarms throughout the home for comprehensive defence against fire and gas risks.

The key benefit of these systems is that they alert residents to any hazard, no matter where they are in the house. This is because a connected network means that whichever alarm is triggered, every alarm will activate and alert the homeowner to the danger even if they are out of earshot of the alarm which has recognised a problem.

The homeowner is then able to ascertain which alarm has been triggered, as whilst each alarm will be issuing an audible alert, only the alarm that has sensed the danger will offer a visual indication.

Both wired and wireless options are available on the market, but we would always recommend wireless as these are easier to install and reduce the level of disruption to the home.

Wireless systems which incorporate high-quality, sealed units are just as reliable as wired variations, especially if the alarms can be locked to the wall for protection against damage or tampering.

Our X-Series alarms, for example, can all be connected wirelessly using a plug-in module to form a full alarm system. The XW100 module simply clicks into any X-Series alarm, offering full protection to a house within minutes and features easy-to-understand LED indicators to ensure the homeowner or landlord can be confident that the residence is protected.

5: Maintenance

Once the alarm is fitted, the installer should speak to the customer about maintenance and the life of the alarm.

Depending on the model selected, the lifespan of the alarm can vary, and maintenance for mains wired and battery powered alarms may be different. For example, Honeywell’s X series CO, smoke & heat alarms require no additional maintenance and no parts or batteries to replace for the whole of their operational life.

It’s the responsibility of the installer to understand the requirements of the alarm and to pass this on to the customer to ensure that their home is continuously protected.

CO Awareness Week is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your CO knowledge and take stock of how you approach the subject with customers. Although it may seem like a simple fit-and-go job, it’s crucial to bear in mind the above tips to ensure you provide a safe and reliable CO alarm installation.

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