Big news: ADT has experienced a product recall on carbon monoxide detectors installed over a two year period. While this could happen to any alarm company, it has garnered a lot more press simply because it is ADT, the 800 lb. gorilla of the US electronic security industry. What is particularly interesting is that the problem stems from the way the detector was wired by the installing technicians– which again raises the issue of wireless vs. hard-wired sensors. But more on that later: here’s the story.
Carbon monoxide detectors installed by ADT between October 2008 and December 2010 as part of a home security system were recalled Thursday, Oct. 20, by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). About 20,000 units of CO 1224T carbon monoxide (CO) detectors have been recalled because they fail to properly signal when they no longer work up to capacity.
With the growing focus on how CO detectors save lives when added to home security systems, I am surprised that ADT is only recalling 20,000 sensors. Then again, unlike its more progressive competitors, ADT has traditionally charged extra monthly fees to monitor for CO, and this may have suppressed the number of detectors that they sold and installed.
Why the Recall?
When the CO detector reaches the end of its useful life, it is supposed to send a signal to make a sound in the home alarm panel alerting consumers it is time to replace them, and send a signal to ADT’s alarm monitoring center. Some of the detectors were not wired properly to the ADT alarm system, resulting in the sound not going off in the home alarm panel and no signal to the ADT alarm monitoring center at the end of its useful life.
What’s the Risk?
Here’s the exact wording from the product recall bulletin, issued by the CPSC:
Hazard: When the CO detectors reach the end of their useful life, they should send a signal to make a sound in the home alarm panel alerting consumers it is time to replace them and a signal to ADT’s alarm monitoring center. Some of the detectors were not wired properly to the ADT alarm system, resulting in the sound not going off in the home alarm panel and no signal to the ADT alarm monitoring center at the end of its useful life. Not replacing a CO detector at the end its useful life poses a CO poisoning hazard to consumers.
Wireless vs. Hard-Wired Sensors
My previous blog post on the advantages of wireless sensor technology reported that wireless sensor usage has overtaken hard-wired sensors. But in that post, I did not even address the issue of technician error, which appears to be at the heart of this recall. Here are the points I made over a year ago:
- Easier to install: no drilling, no mess, quicker, and less chance of damage to your home.
- Each sensor creates its own reporting “zone:” no confusion about which door or window is open, or needs repair.
- Easier to troubleshoot: no tracing wires, searching for the cut or shorted wire, or opening walls to re-run wires.
- Easier to reposition or remove sensors, and add more sensors later.
- Easier to move the entire system with you, especially if an easy-install system (like FrontPoint).
When it comes to making wireless CO detectors part of every home alarm system, there is certainly room for improvement. After all, two of the most populous states in the US (NY and CA) have alreadyestablished usage requirements for home CO detectors. One important way alarm companies can encourage consumers to add CO sensors is to stop charging extra monthly fees for CO monitoring: alarm companies should include additional monitoring services (such as fire, CO, and even environmental issues like water/flood and low temperature) into the existing monitoring fees. That is what FrontPoint has always done.
We’re glad that ADT caught this issue, and it certainly makes sense that they cooperated with the CPSC in issuing the recall. This is an important issue: CO is the “silent killer,” and must be treated with respect. FrontPoint has strongly recommended CO detectors from day one, and has never charged extra monthly fees for the service. Our wireless CO sensor from GE Security features all the right alerts – and has the advantage of being wireless!
We encourage every alarm company to follow our lead on this issue. This is one more example of why FrontPoint is the leader in wireless home security with systems that are safer, smarter, simpler, more affordable, and virtually impossible to defeat. We specialize in cellular monitoring and interactive services, including advanced video features and home automation, capped by the best reputation in the alarm industry. That’s why we’re the #1 ranked home alarm company in the US. Your safety and peace of mind is our priority – right down to the air you breathe. If FrontPoint is not already protecting your home and family, now is the time.