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Is there any reason that a home without any fuel burning devices would need a carbon-monoxide detector?

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2 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Considering the low cost of these devices and how deadly CO can be, why wouldn't you want one? That's like saying you don't want a smoke detector because you don't think anything will catch on fire.

Just because you don't have any of the items @Steve Jackson mentioned doesn't mean you can't be impacted by CO. For example, maybe a delivery truck is parked and running in your driveway putting off all sorts of CO that is being sucked into your house. Maybe your neighbours garage leaks near your air intakes.

One thing you can count on, if something ever did happen relating to CO, your insurance company would be the first one to find out you didn't have a detector!

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If you don't have a:

  • Gas or Oil Furnace
  • Gas Refrigerator
  • Gas Clothes Dryer
  • Gas Range
  • Gas Water Heater
  • Gas or Oil Space Heater
  • Fireplace
  • Charcoal Grill
  • Wood-burning Stove
  • Attached Garage (fumes from automobiles and gas-powered lawn mowers)
  • Attached dwelling (fumes from a neighbor with one of these devices)

...then I would say you don't need a carbon monoxide detector.


As @lqlarry points out, some states require detectors. Here's a list of carbon monoxide detector statutes.

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If it's not the law where you live now, just wait, it will happen. –  lqlarry Jan 10 '12 at 14:57
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Laws usually kick in only after so many people have died. Don't be part of the statistic, just install one! –  Steven Jan 10 '12 at 15:56
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If you're just concerned about the number of boxes hanging on your walls/ceilings you can get combined smoke/CO2 detectors that will alarm when either is detected. Higher end models will employ both optical and ionization detectors and combine both of them and the CO results to minimize false alarms. –  Dan Neely Jan 10 '12 at 16:48
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@Shauna That doesn't sound right entirely right. CO has a molecular weight of 28, the same as N2 and lower than O2's 32. N2 and O2 combined make up 99% of the total. If anything it's low molecular weight should give it a very small boost to higher locations (but since H2O with a weight of only 18 and I've never noticed a major humidity change from the first to second floor of a house). If CO originated from a faulty basement appliance and slowly spread through the home via diffusion a lower detector could deliver an earlier warning; but that's a completely different cause. –  Dan Neely Jan 10 '12 at 19:47
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I stand corrected and was previously misinformed. You learn something new every day! Regarding information on where to place CO detectors, this site appears to have some good recommendations: carbonmonoxidekills.com/27/carbon-monoxide-advice –  Shauna Jan 10 '12 at 20:03
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