Do you have a carbon monoxide detector?

I don’t want to get preachy on this, but do you have a carbon monoxide detector in your home? If not, why not?

I ask because I very likely would have died Monday night if I didn’t have one in my home.

I was in LA working Pacific Media Expo over the weekend and I returned late Monday night, getting home around 2AM Tuesday. I’d turned the heat down while I was away, so one of the first things I did when I got home was to turn it back up. I have a steam radiator system with a boiler in my basement, and I heard it kick in and start warming the house. I went about unpacking and nuking a quick dinner so I could crash and get some sleep before work in the morning. At one point I thought I smelled something odd, but I couldn’t place it so I wrote it off as probably being something outside. I was getting a headache, which I figured was due to the long day and the travel, so I was just about to turn in for the night when the CO detector went off.

It turns out the auto-fill on the boiler failed and it cooked itself dry. And then the low-water cutoff also failed, so it continued to fire full blast with no water. This cracked the boiler, allowing combustion products to enter the steam system, and thereby to enter the house via the vents on the radiators. If I didn’t have the detector it is very likely that I would’ve gone to sleep, and just never woke up. And the house probably would’ve burned down as the boiler was way, way overheated and still firing when I hit the emergency shut-off.

These days most people wouldn’t think of not having a smoke/fire detector, if not several, in their home. But a lot of people don’t have CO detectors. Any source of combustion can produce CO – a fireplace, furnace, hot water heater, stove – even a car accidentally left running in an attached garage. If you have no combustion devices in your home (all electric), maybe you can go without – but it isn’t a major expense for the added safety.

So I’m just saying, it is something to think about. On the downside, I’m facing a major unplanned expense replacing my boiler, but on the upside, I’m not dead.

About MegaZone

MegaZone is the Editor of Gizmo Lovers and the chief contributor. He's been online since 1989 and active in several generations of 'social media' - mailing lists, USENet groups, web forums, and since 2003, blogging.    MegaZone has a presence on several social platforms: Google+ / Facebook / Twitter / LinkedIn / LiveJournal / Web.    You can also follow Gizmo Lovers on other sites: Blog / Google+ / Facebook / Twitter.
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  • Ben Drawbaugh

    Wow, crazy story! Makes me glad I’m all electric — first time ever. Even still, I recently replaced all my smoke detectors with ones that are wired into my alarm system so the fire department would be notified if one of them went off. Makes me wish I got the ones with CO detection.

    Glad you made it, not sure if anyone would have ever filled your shoes in the TiVo community.


  • Stephen Mack

    I’m very glad you’re not dead. Harrowing. Thanks for the reminder.

  • MegaZone

    Thanks to both of you.

    Things certainly could’ve been worse. I could be dead, the house could’ve burned down – or both. If it had been colder while I was away, causing the heat to be used more, it could’ve run dry while I was gone and I could’ve come home to a smoldering hole. Having to have a new boiler put in (which was done Friday), while an inconvenient expense, is getting of light.