How to Measure Carbon Monoxide Levels

A white digital carbon monoxide detector.
  • 1 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 30
What You'll Need
Carbon monoxide detector

Carbon monoxide is a colorless odorless gas which is potentially lethal. Therefore in places where there is a gas source it is important to regulate and measure carbon monoxide levels. This can be done by using an infrared or electrochemical devices exist but these are expensive. Relatively cheaper devices are also available in the market and are easier to install and use.

These carbon monoxide alarms give a reading of the levels of the lethal gas and beep when the levels exceed. Symptoms of carbon monoxide are usually mistaken for other diseases. A mild exposure results in flu like symptoms and an increased exposure can lead to dizziness, headaches and death. It is produced in homes due to lack of ventilation, clogged chimneys or in areas where there are heaters or stoves burning fuel or cigarette smoking.

Presently there is not much awareness about the harmful effects of carbon monoxide. It is important to install a measuring device in order to maintain a healthy living environment.

Step 1 – Purchasing the Right Device

You can purchase a common carbon monoxide alarm from any electrical, departmental or hardware store. The strength and functioning will depend on where you plan on installing it.

Step 2 – Installing the Device

Common mono oxide alarms are easy to install; some are battery operated and others require an electrical output (plug). Attach the device at a height as carbon monoxide is light and tends to float up wards. For this you might need to use a drill or a nail gun or an adhesive to hold it in place. If you are using an electricity powered device you will need a plug which is at a height.

Step 3 – Learning to Read the Levels

It is important to read the instruction manual that comes with the device and learning to read the levels. You can also consult our guide on how to read a monoxide detector . As yet no standard rates of carbon monoxide within closed doors have been agreed upon but if it is anything more than 9 ppm (40,000 micrograms per meter cubed) for a duration of eight hours there is a health hazard. When the levels increase it is important to increase ventilation.

Step 4 – In case of Carbon Monoxide Exposure

In case of carbon monoxide exposure a blood carbon monoxide reading needs to be taken. For this you can contact your physician. There are also devices, which can be kept handy at home for this purpose. These are small and portable blood carbon monoxide measurement devices. If the symptoms persist immediately get medical care.

Step 5 – Safety Precautions and Maintenance

There is usually minimal maintenance of a household carbon monoxide alarm, but if it is the battery-operated kind it will require frequent battery replacing. It is always better to maintain safety precautions in areas where there are gas or paraffin heaters, charcoal burning or gas stoves by ensuring proper ventilation. Gas leaks in kitchens are a common cause of carbon monoxide poisoning therefore it is important to make sure there are no gas pipe leakages.

Carbon monoxide is a less known household threat. Now that you know how to measure the carbon monoxide levels in your home, you are better prepared to keep your family safe.