There are two types of detectors you absolutely need to have in your home: smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can save your life, as they can detect an issue before you can. When it comes to fire and carbon monoxide, every minute matters. It’s also important to know where carbon monoxide detectors should be placed. Many smoke alarms also include carbon monoxide detectors today, but you may be wondering whether a carbon monoxide detector can detect a gas leak.

In short, CO detectors cannot detect a gas leak. To understand why, we first need to understand what carbon monoxide is.

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    Wood burning on a stone fireplace.

    What is Carbon Monoxide?

    Carbon monoxide is a special type of gas that is made as a by-product of an incomplete burn. Carbon monoxide will commonly enter a home through a faulty furnace, clothes dryer, or gas-powered fireplace. This gas is dangerous because it is odorless and flammable. It can be a threat in two ways:

    • It can combust. Carbon monoxide can enter a home and start a fire.
    • It can suffocate you. Carbon monoxide enters your lungs and binds to the areas of your lungs that are meant to take in oxygen. You may not even sense that you are suffocating. Many people can die in their sleep due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

    Carbon monoxide isn’t always noticed by even those who are awake and alert. Those who are poisoned by it may feel dizzy, unable to focus, or forgetful. They may attempt to take a nap rather than looking around for a gas leak but it is important to know how to check for gas leaks. A CO leak can also cause health issues over time. Homeowners should take special care to try to avoid carbon monoxide, through regular maintenance and inspection.

    Many people have carbon monoxide detectors in their home to help alert them of the presence of this potentially deadly substance. While having this tool in place is certainly advisable, knowing how to react if a carbon monoxide detector beeps is equally as important.

    What is Natural Gas?

    Natural gas is different from CO because it isn’t a by-product. Instead, natural gas can simply leak into a home because a gas stove is malfunctioning or because a natural gas line is leaking. Natural gas is a fuel and is more flammable than carbon monoxide. The danger that comes with natural gas is primarily fire and explosion.

    Blue, purple and yellow flames are glowing from a gas stove burner.


    However, natural gas can also suffocate you just as carbon monoxide does. Natural gas is less dangerous because it is not odorless. Most people will be aware that they have a natural gas leak because they will smell gas in their home. This often spurns them to action far faster than carbon monoxide, as they can identify there is a problem.

    Does a Carbon Monoxide Detector Detect Natural Gas?

    In general, most carbon monoxide detectors will not detect natural gas, as they are different types of gas entirely. Most fire detectors will detect carbon monoxide rather than natural gas. Again, this is because carbon monoxide is considered to be the greater threat: though natural gas is more volatile, it is also more easily detected without a detector.

    However, there are gas detectors that a homeowner can purchase that will detect a variety of different types of gas leak, for additional safety and security. These detectors can be a wise choice for those who have a significant number of natural gas appliances within their home, or those who have older gas-powered appliances that they believe could eventually become faulty.

    Gas leaks are incredibly hazardous, not only because of the fire risk they represent but because carbon monoxide can kill people without anyone even noticing that it’s there. Detection monitors are absolutely essential to a healthy and safe home. For more information about automating and installing detectors throughout your home, contact the experts at Protect America.

    An aging man is adjusting his white carbon monoxide detector.

    What are the Best Natural Gas Leak Detectors?

    If you’re shopping around for the best natural gas leak detector for your home, you’ll be happy to know there are many options to fit your needs. Some detectors are battery-operated, others are a spray and then there are natural gas detectors you can plug into a wall.

    Battery-Powered Natural Gas Leak Detectors

    Battery-powered natural gas leak detectors, like the UEi Test Instruments CD100A, are great because they’re not complicated to use. They also have indicator lights that make it easy to spot where a natural gas leak is happening in your home.

    Spray Natural Gas Leak Detectors

    If sprays are more your thing, then you’ll be happy with the Camco 10324 Gas Leak Detector Spray. Homeowners will enjoy this spray because it’s affordable and easy-to-use. Just spray the solution onto the pipes you are monitoring. Wait at least five seconds for the solution to bubble. If the solution doesn’t bubble, then there isn’t a natural gas leak. If bubbles are present, then you do have a gas leak.

    Plug-In Natural Gas Leak Detectors

    Plug-in natural gas leak detectors are great for homeowners because they do all of the heavy-lifting for you. Just plug the detector into a wall and wait to receive updates on the gas levels in your home. For detection during power outages, shop for plug-in natural gas detectors with backup batteries.