Replace CO Detectors

With John R. Hall’s [March 25] column, “I’m Mad As Hell Over CO Poisoning Deaths,” I could not agree more. I have worked for a gas utility for 34 years, and am currently a senior training specialist. About eight years ago, after a CO fatality I helped to investigate, I went on a mission to have our utility push (and sell) the need for CO detectors.

My concern currently is that detectors have a useful lifetime. The electrochemical sensor is warranted for a given time frame because after that limited life, there is no way to be sure the unit will respond correctly.

My updated mission is to be sure that customers understand that they need to replace these detectors as needed. I tie the warranty time frame to the replacement time frame.

Karl Smith, Rochester Gas & Electric, Rochester, NY

No Cure-All

I live in Sterling, IL, and am an hvac service technician for a Dixon, IL, contractor. Last October, Sterling had the dubious distinction of having the largest evacuation for carbon monoxide poisoning in the state of Illinois.

You ask: How important are CO detectors to the teachers, parents, and students? One local school board mandated CO detectors!

Are CO detectors 100% foolproof? No. Yet Chicago, Clarendon Hills, Elmhurst, and other Illinois cities mandate their installation. Are fire/smoke alarms 100% foolproof? No. Yet the state of Illinois mandates their installation.

CO detectors are not the cure-all against CO poisoning; they are just one tool in the fight.

Training the homeowner or landlord about the need for annual inspection, maintenance, and testing of all fossil fuel equipment is important. Many are under the impression that they do not need annual maintenance if they have a CO detector.

Educating those that do maintenance on the equipment is essential. Training of installers on the need to follow the equipment manufacturer’s installation instructions and local codes is also important.

Gary Reecher, CM, Wohrley Heating & Air Conditioning, Dixon, IL

Publication date: 05/27/2002