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Thread: CO Detectors

  1. #1
    George Krause's Avatar
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    Default CO Detectors

    A couple of years ago, a particular carbon monoxide detector was mentioned at an ASHI meeting I attended. (This is the type for homeowners to plug into the wall for home safety, not testing equipment, like Bacharach.) I do not remember the name of the unit, but some guys were even selling them as an add-on at their inspections. It was said to be "the only" detector that was accurate.

    Something was mentioned about United Laboratories, and how the rating system was skewed.

    Does anyone have knowledge of such a device? Or are all detectors about the same?

    George

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    Last edited by George Krause; 01-08-2010 at 12:01 AM.
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    Default Re: CO Detectors

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
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    life is the random lottery of events followed by numerous narrow escapes

  3. #3
    Roger Hankey's Avatar
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    Default Re: CO Detectors

    Monitor sold by Aeromedix is from CO Experts. See CO


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    Default Re: CO Detectors

    inspectors selling products as part of inspection????


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    Default Re: CO Detectors

    Quote Originally Posted by George Krause View Post

    A couple of years ago, a particular carbon monoxide detector was mentioned at an ASHI meeting I attended. (This is the type for homeowners to plug into the wall for home safety, not testing equipment, like Bacharach.) I do not remember the name of the unit, but some guys were even selling them as an add-on at their inspections. It was said to be "the only" detector that was accurate.

    Something was mentioned about United Laboratories, and how the rating system was skewed.

    Does anyone have knowledge of such a device? Or are all detectors about the same?

    George
    George Krause,

    Throwing out a few things that came to mind as I read your post:

    IIRC there was quite a bit of discussion about the different detection systems used for smoke detectors and their not being equal a while back. Erring on the side of caution since the detection type is different I employed both types in my own homes - and its a subject I'll have to review again soon since its time to replace/swap out "detectors" next year.

    Regarding CO or combo CO/smoke detector/monitors for the home install...question and the "brands" which might have been mentioned at a ASHI chapter, ASHI national, Committee meeting, CE, or ASHI materials:

    I do recall a few references from various ASHI materials and meetings to CO Experts low level monitors. I don't recall at the moment why that particular monitor was so often discussed at meetings and such, perhaps metioned more so in a "business plan" approach to develop more business, or the method of "monitoring" or "detection", but I do recall a particular debate inspiring issue often discussed at many levels regarding the sales activity of detectors by HIs, if it just "happened" to the the one that was mentioned in an article which was the subject of a lot of discussion/debate on a SoP/CoE "issue" that the Committee responded to that type of activity. Since the time line fits (a couple of years ago) I'll expand on that below.

    Quote Originally Posted by CHARLIE VAN FLEET View Post
    inspectors selling products as part of inspection????


    CHARLIE, I agree with your concern.

    I recall after an article in the ASHI Reporter about CO levels in the exhaust, where the inspector had earlier sold a detector to the seller/homeowner after first discovering a 5 yrs old CO detector in the utility area and proceeded to sell the detector to the owner, then proceed with his examination/inspection. This particular article mentioned the above branded detector, and one of the highlighted points included the difficulty in assuring understanding and accurate communication with 2nd parties regarding the distinction between ambient detected/leakage and measured CO levels from incomplete combustion but not found to be leaking (yet).

    This brought on a LOT of discussion objecting to the practice of selling the CO monitor/detector to the homowner/seller being contrary to the CoE and possibly the SoP (inspection already officially begun, defect discovered in the process of inspection and/or anytime thereafter for a year) and several RFIs were submitted. Note there was no mention in the original article to indicate that the detector "sold" to the homeowner was sold at a profit (it may have been passed along at cost? debate continued even should that be the case, insurance, "appearances", etc.).

    Debate continued and continues regarding cross selling of services with the inspection to the buyer or followup services to the homeowner (past or eventual) for the year following an inspection, i.e. I.R., etc.).

    Less than a year later there was a committee (ASHI Code of Ethics Committee) statement published in the reporter (in the "Focus on Ethics" format) , so I went back and found them (the two stories). Following are clickable links, first being the CO/HI Inspection "story" where the inspector sold a CO detector mid-inspection "Misunderstandings and Communication" (September 2006 ASHI Reporter); the second being the Q & A submitted regarding the practice of such an offer - and the policy interpretation statement from the committee(s), its the second item in the "Focus on Ethics" column/article (July 2007 ASHI Reporter).

    Misunderstandings & Communication | ASHI Reporter

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hankey, ASHI Reporter September 2006

    Misunderstandings and Communications
    An Inspection Experience

    Carbon Monoxide and a two-week-old child made this inspection very interesting. I arrived to find the seller at home caring for an infant. She offered to leave, but I suggested she wait and leave in an hour or so when the buyer arrived.

    I began the inspection in the basement laundry and immediately noticed an older-model carbon monoxide detector plugged into the receptacle behind the washer and dryer. I unplugged the detector, examined the label on the back and discovered that it was more than five years old.

    I showed this to Ms. Homeowner (mother of the infant), and suggested that she obtain a new detector since the sensor in her detector was no longer reliable. I also offered her the opportunity to purchase a CO Experts Low Level monitor directly from me. She took the brochure I offered, and a short while later, asked me to bring in a CO Experts monitor for her. I agreed and set up the new monitor for her.

    The home was heated with a 38-year-old American Standard boiler. I didn’t run or test the boiler until near the end of the inspection, as I like to have the buyer present to see the carbon monoxide testing. I found no visible concerns on the boiler. However, the vent connection to the chimney had a long horizontal run and was partly hidden by a wood paneling cover in the basement family room. (I recommended the bottom of the cover be removed to examine the vent connection.) .....


    Focus on Ethics | ASHI Reporter

    Quote Originally Posted by Code of Ethics Committee, ASHI Reporter July 2007

    Focus on Ethics

    ......

    Request for Interpretation
    e060923 Selling products to home owners
    If an inspector offers to (and then does) sell a CO detector to a homeowner, is this a Code of Ethics violation?

    RESPONSE
    The Code of Ethics does not prohibit inspectors from selling products to homeowners, so long as the inspector has not inspected the home. However, section 1.F of the Code of Ethics states that, “Inspectors shall not repair, replace, or upgrade, for compensation, systems or components covered by ASHI Standards of Practice, for one year after the inspection.” This provision of the Code helps ensure the objectivity of the inspection by forbidding the inspector from profiting from the finding of defects. If the carbon monoxide detector, or any other component, is included in a home inspection, selling such an item would represent a potential conflict of interest in violation of the Code. Inspectors should be careful to avoid any activities that could be perceived to compromise their objectivity.

    ......
    There might be some topic threads here on the subject (on what detection/monitoring method is best for smoke/fire and/or CO) or archieved, haven't looked yet but plan to soon. Perhaps Bob Harper and/or other resident FIRE, etc. experts have some posts on the subject of the pros and cons of detection/monitoring types?

    It is not my intention to hijack the thread to an ethics discussion/debate or SoP debate, as state SoP adoptions and interpretations (and court decisions/findings), insurance carriers/underwriters, and other HI organizations may differ; but as for ASHI SoP and CoE the Committee (reviewed by SoP and ASHI legal) appears clear, as published, on other business/profit restrictons.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 01-09-2010 at 07:44 AM.

  6. #6
    Roger Hankey's Avatar
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    Default Re: CO Detectors

    I am the author of the ASHI Reporter article mentioned in this thread. I am also the HI that sold the CO alarm to the home seller in the inspection in question. I understand the ethics issue involved and offer the following observations:

    1. CO alarms are not included in the ASHI SoP.

    2. I no longer sell CO Experts alarms, not because of ethics questions, but because of supply & inventory problems.

    3. In the case in question, I had absolutely NO qualms or ethics concerns, since the issue of the safety of the occupants far out weighed any inspection ethics concerns. The home seller knowingly accepted the purchase of the product offered. No coercion existed. I simply explained my findings re: the existing outdated CO alarm and the presence of a infant child in the house.

    4. I did not determine that the CO level in the boiler vent was elevated until AFTER the CO alarm was sold, and AFTER the home seller had departed.

    5. No one has ever raised the ethics question of this case with me. Until reading the forum today, I was not even aware that this CoE intrepretation had been issued. Most of the alarms I sold were offered as a matter of routine, not as a result of any inspection findings. This is similar to offering a radon test as part of an inspection. Many were sold to parties not connected with any inspection.

    6. I am sensitive to the C of E question, but IF I were selling CO alarms, and a similar situation came up again, I believe I would offer the CO alarm to the seller. I believe this situation called for personal ethics to supercede the ASHI C of E. In General, I AGREE with the C of E intrepretion and continue to abide by the C of E.

    7. Since I am NOT selling CO alarms anymore, and have not for over 2 years, what I would do today in a similar situation is recommend to the home owner (occupant/seller) that they immediately replace their CO alarm, and have the heating plant serviced by a qualified HVAC firm immediately. If they were not present, a note to this effect would be left at the property.

    8. As you may have seen in the article, the key problem here was that several parties: agents and owners, did NOT understand the difference between CO in the boiler vent, and CO in the ambient air. They did not understand why the new (and old) alarms did not warn of elevated CO in the boiler vent. The key in communicating this difference is to put the findings in writing, including a CO reading for indoor ambient air, AND ask the client and their agent to repeat aloud what I have told them so that you can hear them state the difference.

    9. My CO reports are on a separate document from the inspection report so that the CO report may be left at the property to serve as a reference for the HVAC firm or technician doing the followup. When eleveated levels of CO are found I place a copy of my CO test findings near the heating plant (or water heater). No document is left at the property if findings are normal.

    10. While I no longer sell CO Experts monitors, I still believe they are an excellent product, well suited as a supplement to UL 2034 listed alarms (which are prohibited from ringing at low levels of CO). See CO. Mr. Kerr, the owner, is an interesting character, and has a wealth of information on CO, health affects of CO exposure, CO detection, and the politics of UL listings for CO detectors.

    11. While not required, I routinely check the age of readily accessible, plug in type CO alarms, and recommend replacement if found to be more than 5 years old.

    12. I strongly believe in CO testing combustion equipment. I endorse the statement on the Bacharach "training room" website: "If you don't test, you don't know." I have however, discontinued tested gas ovens, since proper testing procedures requires equipment which measures O2 as well as CO.

    13. I do my best to follow the CO test procedures found in the Midwest Weatherization Best Practices Field Guide, US Dept. of Energy, 2007

    Last edited by Roger Hankey; 01-09-2010 at 12:12 PM.

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    Default Re: CO Detectors

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Hankey View Post

    12. I strongly believe in CO testing combustion equipment. I endorse the statement on the Bacharach "training room" website: "If you don't test, you don't know." I have however, discontinued tested gas ovens, since proper testing procedures requires equipment which measures O2 as well as CO.
    Roger you can use the CO as read value for gas ovens, anything less than 50 PPM is acceptable.
    The only reason you would require the O2 reading is if you are checking for ANSI Z-21 compliance.

    Measured Performance more than just a buzzword

  8. #8
    Roger Hankey's Avatar
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    Default Re: CO Detectors

    Thank you David,

    Please post a source for your 50 ppm standard and list the test procedure. When I was testing ovens, I used 100 ppm "as measured" (single gas instrument) after a 5 min. warmup, (no aluminum foil in the oven) measured in the oven vent. If I had been using 50 ppm, I expect I would have reported 1 in 5 ovens as having elevated levels of CO. As it was, even at 100 ppm, I had too many disputes with gas appliance technicians. Manufacturer's standard for ovens is more than 100 ppm. (I'd have to look up the standard, but I know it is out there.)


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    Cool Re: CO alarms vs. monitors

    Actually ANSI allows up to 800 ppm from gas ovens. The theory is that IF you home meets the ASHRAE 62.2 std. for min. ventilation AND you cook for no more than 4 hrs. THEORETICALLY the ambient *as read* CO levels 'should' be Within Normal Limits (WNL). A lot of ASSumptions there.....

    An alarm listed to UL 2034 or UL2075 meets a std. designed to make some bureaucrats feel they have done a reasonable touchy-feely job at providing a modicum of protection to building occupants without risking too many of those more important false positive alarms. Afterall, do you realise how many Americans have to go to the Emergency Dept. annually for nerves shattered by a false CO alert? I mean, them will need therapy, not be able to sleep in buildings with them, lose their jobs, break out in a rash and maybe even not be able to focus while watching Oprah........

    A 'monitor' is not designed to kiss some bureaucrat's (fill in the blank) but to provide real protection inspite of the politicians. You see, the early generation 'alarms' used inferior sensor technology that resulted in some major false positive alerts such as the Chicago incident. The knee jerk reaction by the jerks on the UL2034 cmte. was to dummy the alarms to the point they ignore incipient or chronic problems. Rather, they were intended to provide a supposedly 'reasonable' response alert to higher exposure levels................ IF, it works as designed. The big IF. Truth is, many don't. Why buy a piece of junk that tells you on the package it fails to provide adequate protection for high risk groups?

    When a listed CO alarm finally goes off, it's telling you that you should have gotten the heck out of there a lot sooner. If it goes off at all. Many listed alarms are very unreliable.

    Understand appliance mfrs don't want alarms going off making their products look bad. It's bad for sales and costs them money when they have to respond to an incident regardless of true fault. It is a corporate decision to ignore the chronic low level threat for now and focus on the short term higher level threats.

    Since the reporting mechanisms for CO incidents and exposures is a joke, it will be a Loooong time before we begin to see any remotely accurate exposure numbers.

    Bob

    Keep the fire in the fireplace.

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    Default Re: CO alarms vs. monitors

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Harper View Post
    Actually ANSI allows up to 800 ppm from gas ovens. The theory is that IF you home meets the ASHRAE 62.2 std. for min. ventilation AND you cook for no more than 4 hrs. THEORETICALLY the ambient *as read* CO levels 'should' be Within Normal Limits (WNL). A lot of ASSumptions there.....
    You bet there are a lot of assumptions Bob.
    That 800 PPM is specified as an air-free measurement which is an impossibility to begin with.
    You mentioned the ventilation rates, for a gas oven those rates are 4 air changes per hour with the kitchen being the largest room in the building.
    Don't see that scenario too often.

    Measured Performance more than just a buzzword

  11. #11

    Default Re: CO Detectors

    Good morning, Gents –

    I’m a little slow off the mark here but, for what it’s worth. There is a major distinction between “measuring” equipment and “monitoring” equipment.

    The residential CO monitors which I am most familiar with (such as the Kidde NightHawk) do NOT measure CO, and if you bring in a CO measuring instrument, the two will not coincide. I wish I had a study I did once on the issue… but I can’t find it. (BTW I like the Kidde Night Hawk and have them installed in my home).

    The residential CO monitors I’m familiar with are known as “biomimetic” monitors meaning that they simulate a biological response to a CO exposure REGARDLESS of the actual CO concentration in the air. The detectors (frequently) have a synthetic version of human hemoglobin whose color changes depending on a very messy and complex model known as the “Coburn-Forster-Kane” differential of which the airborne CO concentration is one of the factors. However, the values sometimes displayed by these monitors is NOT the ambient CO concentration.

    Now, I’m sure that there are some residential monitors that actually do measure CO, but I’m not familiar with them – Anyone want to educate me?

    Cheers!
    Caoimhín P. Connell
    Forensic Industrial Hygienist
    Forensic Industrial Hygiene

    (The opinions expressed here are exclusively my personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect my professional opinion, opinion of my employer, agency, peers, or professional affiliates. The above post is for information only and does not reflect professional advice and is not intended to supercede the professional advice of others.)

    AMDG



  12. #12
    Roger Hankey's Avatar
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    Default Re: CO Detectors

    Mr. Connell,

    Here is the link to a study of sensors on the CO Experts website. It is very interesting.

    Warning


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    Default Re: CO Detectors

    Only two models that I'm aware of use electrochemical sensors to calculate CO.

    One is the CO experts and the other is the NSI 3000.

    Measured Performance more than just a buzzword

  14. #14

    Default Re: CO Detectors

    Thanks Roger -

    The link takes you to a discussion that appears rather suspicious, but at the bottom is a link that takes you to another lik that takes you to a PDF of a study that looks alittle more promising.

    I will put it on my reading list!

    Caoimhín
    (P.S. Is it June yet?)


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