how to test for carbon monoxide without a detector

Wondering how to test for carbon monoxide without a detector?

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to receive 100% validation.

But you can use a few methods as well as major signs to be able to recognize carbon monoxide without a detector.

To check for carbon monoxide leaks without a detector you should inspect any burning appliances for surrounding yellow stains and heavy condensation. In addition, you can use a burner flame to determine the presence of a CO gas.

Let’s next learn more about carbon monoxide…

About Carbon Monoxide (CO)

the carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a gas that you won’t be able to see or smell. The gas is mostly released by appliances that are fueled with oil, coal, wood, and natural gas.

The gas is often referred to as the “silent killer” since it’s hard to identify until it’s too late.

The poison gas won’t be lethal when the leak is small but it’s better to read the entire guide and know for sure whether you need to take measures.

Note: The first suspects for CO leaks should be heater devices.

Can You Check For Carbon Monoxide Without A Detector?

Carbon monoxide is almost undetectable without a valid detector that will tell you the active levels of this gas in the environment.

However, there could be signs of CO leaking that you will be able to recognize after reading the rest of this guide.

In summary, detecting carbon monoxide without a detector is impossible, but there are straightforward signs of dangerous CO levels in the atmosphere.

Those are almost always identified by unusual leaks so let’s next learn how to recognize them easily.

Let’s next learn the methods of testing carbon monoxide without a detector:

How Do You Check For Carbon Monoxide Without A Detector?

If you have no carbon monoxide detector at your disposal, then you will be manually checking for carbon monoxide leaks.

how to check carbon monoxide

There could be obvious and not-so-obvious signs of carbon monoxide that you will be able to tell immediately and determine if there’s a problem.

Here are all of the methods for checking for CO without using a detector:

Method #1 Look For Unusual Stains

The first method of detecting CO leaks is to look for unusual stains, especially near or around appliances.

These could be brownish or even yellowish depending on the carbon monoxide level in the atmosphere of the compartment.

How can I tell CO stains from regular mold stains?

It’s almost impossible to mistake the leaking since it will not only look disgusting but will also cover a large area around the appliance.

It may even develop a weird odor as it reacts with oxygen for a longer time.

If you’re hesitant that the CO leak could be a regular stain, clean it and see for yourself.

If it turns out harder to clean, you will know that there is CO in the atmosphere around the stain.

Tip: To clean CO stains, you can use 1 tablespoon of liquid detergent for dishwashing and a cup of warm water, along with a clean cloth.

Method #2 Watch Out For CO Poisoning

watch out carbon monoxide poisoning

Yes, CO can be strongly affecting the ones who breathe it in and also bring a lot of nasty symptoms that may confuse you.

What’s the weirdest about CO poisoning is that it has the same symptoms as your regular cold or flu, but doesn’t exactly feel like it.

Common symptoms of CO poisoning could be the following:

  • A headache that keeps coming back (unusual or usual)
  • An upset stomach
  • Weakness
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath

There could be more but those are the most reported symptoms. A distinguishable feature of those symptoms is that they are relieved whenever you’re away from home.

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact your doctor and 911.

Alert: When ignoring symptoms for too long, they may lead to a more serious health condition, so contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Method #3 Use The Burner Flame

use burner flame

An interesting chemical reaction that will help you identify whether your household has a CO leak is to turn on the burner’s flame.

The reaction represents nothing dangerous, but the color of the flame will help you identify whether there is a reaction with any carbon monoxide.

All you have to do is turn on the gas and watch the color of the flame.

Here are the flame’s colors whenever there is CO and whenever there is not:

  • Bright blue color – there is no carbon monoxide
  • Yellowish color – there are certain levels of carbon monoxide

Keep in mind that the burner’s flame may not be exactly yellow, it may also appear in orange color based on the activity levels of CO in your household.

Note: Make sure that the burner works for at least 2 minutes before making any conclusions.

Method #4 Judge From Odor

judge from the odor

What bothers people the most whenever there is CO in their household is the flavor of the air upon inhaling.

The activity of carbon monoxide in any household is well-known to make the air stale-smelling.

The air with carbon monoxide will smell as if the room was not ventilated for days or even weeks.

The air would feel stuffy even when you ventilate the room properly. This is one of the ways to tell if there’s a carbon monoxide leak without a detector.

That was how to test for carbon monoxide without a detector. Let’s proceed with learning more about the objects that could release the gas.

Tip: Make sure not to inhale too much when you’re suspecting a gas leak!

What Releases Carbon Monoxide at Home?

what releases carbon monoxide

The CO can be released by many devices in a household. Every home has at least 1 heater device keeping the family warm during the winter.

The main suspects should be oil-fueled heaters and devices with the purpose to produce heat.

Carbon monoxide is mainly released by:

  • Fireplaces
  • Fuel-heaters
  • Cloth dryers
  • Water heaters
You won’t be able to remove the poisoning gas from the room by opening a window!

There is just not enough airflow that will completely clean the air.

The CO-poisoned environment should be exposed to airflow for at least 7 hours to be safe to inhale.

The 5 Signs Of Carbon Monoxide Leak

In case you weren’t able to identify if there is a carbon monoxide leak, we’ve prepared a short list containing the most frequent signs.

Make sure to remember them so you can watch out and discover a CO leak as early as possible.

  1. Heavy condensation near the appliance
  2. Stuffy air
  3. Weird gas smell
  4. No upward air draft.
  5. Yellow stains

Despite the fact that you won’t be able to taste nor see the gas, these signs will help you determine whether you’re facing a carbon monoxide leak.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

the carbon monoxide poisoning

If carbon monoxide leak goes on undetected, it can cause serious irreversible brain damage to those who inhale the gas and in some cases, lethal.

Although you will have to be exposed to the gas leak for quite a while and it’s hard not to notice it.

If you continuously experience symptoms that have something to do with carbon monoxide exposure, contact your doctor immediately and leave the environment for the time being.

Inhaling fresh air will cause the symptoms to go away only for a little while!

Quick Recap:

Hence, to check for carbon monoxide without a detector you would need to watch for signs such as heavy condensation, stuffy air, and yellow stains. To test for CO you can use a burner flame and watch out for yellow color.

Wrapping Up:

This was how to test for carbon monoxide without a detector and if you’ve read the entire guide you should be aware if there is a gas leak.

Make sure to take precautions and not to inhale the dangerous gas. It’s always better to call 911 when you recognize a CO leak.

Nicole B