How to Test a CO Detector


A carbon monoxide (CO) detector can be a life-saving piece of equipment. This orderless and colorless gas can cause fatigue, dizziness, vomiting and even death, if you are exposed to it for too long or at high levels. A CO detector may be your only line of defense against this quiet killer. A CO detector is similar to a smoke detector, in that it sets off an alarm when CO has been detected. In order to have a properly functioning CO detector, you need to test it, routinely.

  • Test the CO detector at least once a month, to make sure the alarm is working properly. Do this by holding down the "Test" button in the middle of the CO detector for a few seconds, until the alarm sounds.

  • Replace the batteries and try it again, if the alarm does not sound. If it still does not sound, replace the unit. However, if the alarm sounds, after replacing the batteries, proceed to Step 3.

  • Purchase a CO test badge, available at any hardware store, and place it on the wall next to your CO detector. If the badge changes color, even a little, this means CO is present.

  • Replace your CO detector, if the badge indicates CO is present, but your alarm does not sound, as this means the unit is no longer functioning properly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Replace the CO detector's batteries once a year. This will help ensure your CO detector is always functioning.
  • Read up on the life expectancy of your particular CO detector, and replace it once your CO detector is passed its prime.

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  • Photo Credit home sweet home image by David Dorner from
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