Gas detectors are an essential part of a home security system and are no longer a "luxury". Once expensive industrial units, fixed home gas detectors can be as small as a paperback book and portable gas detectors can be even smaller. The reduction in size and cost is due to new methods of registering the presence of one or a variety of dangerous gases, as well as the use of digital displays and readouts. Home gas detectors can also be "wired in" to new or existing electronic home security systems, making them much less expensive than stand-alone gas detection systems.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
There are many types of home gas detectors and the homeowner has a difficult choice to make in selecting the best unit for their home. The most simple gas detectors are designed to detect the presence of carbon monoxide, a colorless and odorless gas that kills many people quickly and silently each year. "CO" is a by-product of combustion and can build up quickly due to a faulty furnace or a partially blacked fireplace flue. Carbon monoxide will also reach dangerous levels in enclosed garages where people may run their cars or trucks for some time while conducting repairs.
Another dangerous gas homeowners should be concerned about is radon. Like carbon monoxide, Radon is colorless and odorless. The difference is, radon is radioactive and inhaling very small amounts over a long period of time can be very dangerous. The Surgeon General estimates radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer, next to cigarette smoking. Radon is emitted by the breakdown of minute amounts of naturally occurring uranium in the soil and can achieve dangerous concentrations in basements and other low points of your home. A specialized gas detector specially designed to detect radon gas will alert the homeowner to the need to install a ventilation system to disperse the gas.
Other Gas Detectors
More sophisticated gas detectors can sense the presence of a variety of gases, in some cases in very small quantities. While very low levels may not cause injury, they may be a symptom of another problem, such as a leak between the home and garage. Multi-function detectors are also useful in homes that use natural gas for cooking and to run hot water heaters. Top of the line home gas detectors can detect and monitor gases including chlorine, chlorine dioxide, sulfur dioxide, oxygen, hydrogen sulfide and more.