Testimonial for a CO-Experts Monitor in an all electric home

George,

Good afternoon.  I bought your CO Experts Detector about a year ago for our townhouse (all electric, however) through the good people at NCI.  We have an on-going relationship with NCI and they brought it to my personal attention. We install CO “Alarms” generally in the Low income Weatherization Program here in Arizona and I thought that I should become aware of your new product. I often personally acquire new products for evaluation and since we do have an attached garage I thought that it would be interesting to bring it home in any event.
At the townhouse, we (especially my wife who is home all day, having retired last year) began to experience very occasional  “alarm” signals about 6 months ago but didn’t realize that it was your unit sounding until about a month ago!  We thought we were having unknown problems with our hard-wired smoke alarms (5 in house) until, exasperated, I was standing in the kitchen trying to figure out what was going on and finally realized that it was the CO-Experts Detector sitting on the back of the kitchen counter, under the cabinets, that was the culprit!!!  I took the unit around the house and got readings varying from 11ppm – 15ppm.  Then went into the attached garage and it dropped to 5-6 ppm and then took it out front of the house where it went off the scale (i.e. below 5ppm). Came back into the house and the readings were, again, between 8-13ppm.  We opened up the house including front door and after about 45 minutes the CO level was below 5ppm and that apparently was the end of it.
Then no readings for over a month until this morning when my wife Ruth telephoned to say that the unit had “sounded” and she was looking at 17ppm CO. When I had left the townhouse for the Office this morning I checked the unit (I’m now in the habit of checking it frequently) and it showed nothing.
So several hours later something in the environment certainly changed.  We are not smokers, don’t have candles going, no fireplace, etc. No combustion appliances. We have a Heat Pump for heating & cooling. It has occurred to me that perhaps occasionally the Heat Pump’s secondary resistance heating strips may “kick in” and burn off some dust particles which might produce a little CO. It would be “incomplete combustion.”  The only other thing I can think of is some sewer gas (is there a “little CO” in the sewer gas “soup”?) coming back into the house under unusual atmospheric conditions or sewer line pressurization?
So I’m sending this email to you and some other people who might have some ideas as to why we experience a CO transient on an irregular basis (the last time was about a month ago).

Sincerely,

R. C.

Russ, I want to Thank You, for bringing this Question forward, and since many of the Good Questions are put on my Website Q & A Section, I want to establish Exactly WHY, … Living with a C O – Experts Low Level C O “Health” Monitor in your Home, … is TRULY DIFFERENT.
Many people do not Realize EXACTLY what a Very Small Amount, of ANYTHING,… that 1 ppm, or 1 out of 1,000,000, ….. REALLY  IS  ! ! !
It is ONE INCH, out of 16 MILES, ….. ONE PENNY, out of $10,000.00
Prior to the Introduction of my Low Level C O “Health” Monitor, … NO Product ever available for the Home was Capable of Accurate, Reliable, Repeatable, Detection of Carbon Monoxide at Levels from 1 to 30 ppm.  Because of this FACT, Customers will discover that, in Virtually Every
Home, they will, from time to time find Levels of C O  Present that they were Never Aware of Previously.
Now, to your Specific Question, in your Specific Case:
1. You did not tell me IF, each “Time” you became AWARE of C O in your Home if you checked the DATA Recall on your Monitor to see what the “High”, or “Peak” C O Reading that the Monitor had Recorded, and the “Time” of that “Peak” Reading.
2. From what you HAVE told me, I would mention that there are Several Items that merit Consideration.
a. In the last episode you mentioned, that resulted in a 17 ppm Reading a couple hours after you left for the Office, is a perfect duplication of hundreds of cases recorded by Minnegasco Gas Co., of MPLS., Minn., from cases they found via there own Responder’s Investigations. [They have even made a Video tape available].
All Newer Cars, [with Catalytic Converters], generate copious amounts of Carbon Monoxide Poison on Start-Up [various tests have found from 16 to 60,000 ppm during the first 30 to 60 Seconds].
When you open the door between your house and your attached garage, this CO generated in your garage, Rushes into your House. Where, in Most Cases, it has a Long Way to travel, and many thousands of cubic feet of air to be “Diluted” in, before it will reach your CO Alarm; therefore a “Time Delay” of one to three hours is very understandable.
Your garage is NOT Nearly as well Insulated as your Home; therefore, it is much easier for the C O in the garage to dissipate much faster than the CO that entered your Home.
I suggest that you put your Monitor IN your garage before you start your car, and do the same things, at the Same Pace, [Elapsed Time], ….. then as soon as you have left the garage, have your wife check to see what your Monitor is Indicating.
b. Yes, there is a small amount of CO in Sewer Gas, as there is in Natural Gas and Methane; however, with Sewer Gas, you generally have the additional problem of H2S multiplying the “Effect”, on most C  O Sensors. Virtually ALL “Trace” Gas effects on Electrochemical Sensors can be nullified by the Proper use of “Filters” used in the “Stacking” Process of the Sensor Manufacturing. However, C O from ANY SOURCE, … is still CO , and WILL Continue to be seen by the Sensor.
c. Also, by having your CO – Experts Low Level  C O “Health” Monitor on your Kitchen Counter, you INCREASE the chance of pick up lower levels of CO from several other sources such as:
1. Self Cleaning Oven, even on an electric stove, some C O is generated, if very Dirty, it can be over 100 ppm.
2  Fixing Dark Toast, waffles, etc.
3. Hydrogen / CO “Cross Readings” from possible use of a battery charger on the Counter, or from the use of self-recharging appliances.
4. From “Roasting” seeds, nuts, etc. in your oven.
In the future, please record “Peak” Readings, and Time Elapsed from “Peak” Readings, … and keep me Posted.

Again, I Thank You, for your Questions, … and for your Interest in Carbon monoxide Safety.

George E. Kerr, President

 

George,

Thanks for your very helpful reply.

Over the weekend, by using your CO Experts detector/alarm, I eventually determined that one apparent CO source is my 1991 Isuzu Trooper. Another source may be my wife’s 1995 Oldsmobile sedan and we are working on that possibility. I think that we can rule out other mysterious CO sources at this point.

I mounted your CO detector/alarm on the wall in front of the Trooper, and with the garage door open, started the engine.  After about 1 minute it began registering a reading, initially 27ppm and then reaching 69ppm only seconds later where it seemed to max out. Of course the unit “sounded” under these conditions. I backed the Trooper out of the garage, closed the door with the remote control and then drove around to the front of the townhouse and parked. Came back into the house through the front door and then went into the garage from the kitchen-garage door. The CO level was still “in the 60’s.  We went off to do some shopping and returned 3-4 hours later to find that the unit was still “sounding” in the garage and the CO level something like 27ppm. Clearly, what I thought was a leaky garage door was insufficient to dilute & mix out the CO from the Trooper hours earlier.

Very interesting finding!!!

The next step for me is to learn whether the townhouse goes negative when the Heap Pump forced air system operates. That would be a potential mechanism by which CO from the garage is pulled into the townhouse. The kitchen-garage door is weather-stripped, has a door shoe  & threshold so it wouldn’t seem leaky enough to allow much air movement from the garage. But that assumption may be in error as was my original assumption that it wasn’t’ the Isuzu Trooper!!!

Obviously, if townhouse occupants use the rear kitchen-garage entrance door for typical daily trips & purposes, CO in the garage from vehicles may enter the residence through that entry and it would seem to be very likely in this situation. The townhouse is also apparently quite tight (I have not conducted blower door tests yet but that is very close now) and once the CO gets into the residence it isn’t quickly diluted or flushed until the windows and doors are thrown open for at least 30 minutes to an hour from our personal experience over the weekend.

I have answered my own question now about the value of installing a low level CO detector/alarm for an all electric residence with an attached garage.  I confess to having been skeptical about such an investment in the past.

You may reproduce my comments, observations, & experience if you wish on your Web Site. Please note, however, that my comments are my own and do not necessarily represent or reflect the policy position(s) of the Arizona Energy Office – Low Income Weatherization Program.

Sincerely,
R. C., Feb 10, 2003
Russ,
I want to mention another potential C O Source that my Monitor will pick up that is usually not considered by a HVAC Contractor, and is Very Difficult to find “Accidentally”.
I first became aware of this source back in 1996, while Introducing the First Electrochemical Sensor Residential CO Detector to the Utility Industry. I was Speaking to an East Coast GAUG, [a Gas Assoc. Utilization / Customer Service Group], and a Safety Training Officer from ConEd in New York City told me that ConEd had spent hundreds of “Man Hours”, and Many Thousands of Dollars doing Furnace and Boiler C O Investigations in many Large Buildings and could NOT locate the Source.

Finally, they Discovered that the C O was coming from the Conduit that brought the Electric Cables into the Building, …. from WIRES / Cables that were Burning / Smoldering Underground.
Just last Winter, in a Mobile Home that my Nephew lives in here on the ranch, the C O Monitor in his Utility Room started Chirping, and indicated 14 ppm. He called me to tell me that my Monitor was “Messed Up”. His place is total electric, he hadn’t been using his Clothes Dryer, no Smokers in the house, etc., etc..
I took another Monitor, and a “Hand Held” Hazmat Industrial Meter that I have, and drove up to his place.  By the time I got there, the Monitor in his Utility Room was showing 19 ppm.  My hand held meter indicated 18, as did the other Monitor that I had taken with me, even though he had opened the Back Door, [which goes directly outside] next to his Dryer. I CLOSED the door, and in Seconds, could Smell HOT WIRING. We Immediately pulled the Washer & Dryer out form the Wall, Looked, Felt, & “Smelled” all around them …. Nothing; however, now the Smell was even Stronger and the C O monitors were reading in the 30’s and going up.
I ran to the Breaker Box and turned all of the Power off.  It only then dawned on me that the Hot Water Heater was in a “Closet Type Area”, directly behind that back wall of the Utility Room, and Opened Only to the Outside.  We went out on the back deck, took off the Winter Insulation, opened the “Flimsy” door, and was hit in the face with a Burst of Smoke and Fumes.
After it Cleared out a few seconds I used a Portable [ABC dry powder] Extinguisher on the burning wiring. It was a 220 V Hot Water Heater, that had FAILED to trip the breaker for some reason. [ I replaced the Breaker Box]

We all KNOW that we SHOULD replace Cords or Plug-ins that feel hot to the touch, if it is Plastic and gets hot enough to “Warp”, your Monitor is most likely going to be telling you about it.

My Monitor is NOT a FIRE ALARM  Officially; however, …IT IS A DAMN GOOD ADDITION to EVERY HOME  ! ! !

Unfortunately, C O Poisoning in “All Electric” Homes is not RARE at All.  Every Year, more People DIE as a Result of Internal Combustion engines than from All Heating Appliances Combined.
In addition to Motor Vehicles, other smaller gasoline engines are VERY QUICK KILLERS.   I refer you to the “Link” on my Site on Small Gasoline Engines.
Reviewing the Fatalities Resulting from Serious Ice Storms in N. E. USA and S. E. Canada in the Last few Winters, data reveals that more people DIED as a Result of using Portable Generators, … than from Car Accidents, during the Same Storms.  The same Ice Storm that “Slows Down” the Drivers, making the highways Safer, … makes the HOME far more Dangerous.

George E. Kerr

 

 

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