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CO Alarms: not fit for purpose

July 1, 2016 featured image

A new report looking at the effectiveness and durability of carbon monoxide detectors  (CO Alarms) has shown that over half (52%) of the alarms tested posed a ‘high’ or ‘serious risk’.

The issue with the alarms centres around the product’s sensor that is shown to erode over time, meaning its ability to detect the deadly gas is compromised, despite the warranties provided by suppliers.

Co-funded by the European Union and the Product Safety Forum of Europe (PROSAFE), a non-profit professional organisation, the report tested more than 81 models of CO detectors from across seven EU member states, with 25 tested in a laboratory.

Of those laboratory tested, only three models were found to be OK, with many detectors assessed by PROSAFE deemed to be a ‘high’ risk.

It is the most recent study to highlight the serious issues surrounding the efficiency of CO alarms.  In October 2015, West Sussex Trading Standards also issued a report highlighting that as many as 80% of CO alarms tested failed British Standards tests.

Regular check ups

Last year the UK government passed legislation requiring private sector landlords to test their smoke and CO alarms annually and before each new tenancy.  Failure to comply could see landlords face fines of up to £5,000.

Effective testing

Landlords need to be aware that use of the ‘Test Button’ on the alarm will only test the battery, buzzer and electronic circuit.  It will not flag up any problems with the alarm’s ability to detect CO gas.

Testing the sensor can only be done by injecting a specific and safe level of test gas over the alarm.

To help meet the new legislation and protect consumers, Gas Safe Europe has developed multi award winning, Detectagas® to check the battery and sensor in alarms in one test by injecting a specific and safe level of test gas into a specially designed transparent cover over the alarm.  The safe and easy to use the test kit is now widely available.

For more information, visit

John Stones, Managing Director of Gas Safe Europe comments:

“For more than 30 years we have been campaigning to raise awareness of the need to effectively test CO alarms and this report further supports the case.

“There is undoubtedly a serious issue with the quality of CO alarms on the market and more needs to be done to raise awareness of the issue.  Currently there are more than 30million alarms in the UK that could be providing consumers with a  false sense of security and putting lives at risk.”

For Further advice from HETAS on which CO alarms to buy – Click Here

If you are looking for Carbon Monoxide appliance testing training (CMDDA1) – Click Here

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