How do I test my Carbon Monoxide Detector?

How do I test my Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Carbon Monoxide Meters and Detectors should be periodically tested to ensure they actually respond and are sensitive to carbon monoxide gas.

Typically, this is accomplished with compressed carbon monoxide gas in a bottle or can. In this article, we discuss the various methods of testing carbon monoxide detectors and meters. 




  • Assures you your carbon monoxide detetor is really operational.
  • Assures you do not have a defective carbon monoxide meter.
  • Requires only household equipment to undertake a real test.
  • Most people expose their carbon monoxide detectors to exhaust gas - DO NOT DO THAT!
  • Most folks think all is OK, since they have a new carbon monoxide detector, and assume they are 100% bullet proof.
  • All carbon monoxide detectors and meters have a finite life. Life span ranges from 2 up to 10 years.


The most IMPORTANT part of testing your carbon monoxide detector or meter is to NEVER test your CO detector by exposing it to engine exhaust gas. The exhaust gas is a very bad source of carbon monoxide for many reasons.

  1. The carbon monoxide concentration is NOT constant. It varies. Sometimes it is low and sometimes it is high.
  2. The exhaust gas has large amounts of humidity and is at a high temperature that may damage your CO sensor.
  3. The exhaust gas has acidic gases components such as NOz that cancels the signal of the CO sensor signal. When one is measuring carbon monoxide in an exhaust stream, special filters are needed to filter humidity, acidic gases and condition the gas stream before it is exposed to the gas sensing element.

Follow this simple procedure here to test your carbon monoxide device.