Ultimate Guide to Placing Carbon Monoxide Detectors

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Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless toxic gas produced by fuel-burning appliances. Carbon monoxide is responsible for an estimated 15,000 emergency room visits and 500 unintentional deaths in the US each year.

Carbon monoxide detectors save lives by sounding the alarm when elevated CO gas levels are detected. Get the most from your carbon monoxide detectors by installing them in the right place with the help of this guide.

Near Sleeping Areas

Any room used as a bedroom should have a carbon monoxide detector installed within 15 feet of the door. If two bedroom doors are less than 30 feet apart, one detector is sufficient.

Why Near Sleep Areas?

CO gas leaks are especially common at night when furnaces run frequently to keep your home warm. With a carbon monoxide detector, you eliminate the risk of being exposed to a leak while you sleep, which could be fatal.

On Every Floor of Your Home

If your home has multiple stories, including a basement, make sure at least one carbon monoxide detector is installed on every level.

Why On Every Floor of Your Home?

Dangerous carbon monoxide buildup is often trapped on a single floor of your home. The main living and sleeping areas upstairs may be just fine, but if the furnace or water heater in the basement starts malfunctioning, a release of CO gas here could make going downstairs a deadly trap.

Within 10 Feet of the Internal Garage Door

If you have an attached garage, install a carbon monoxide detector just inside the door that leads out to the garage. Also, place one in the room positioned directly above the garage.

Why Within 10 Feet of the Internal Garage Door?

Many people unsafely idle their cars in the garage. This can lead to dangerous carbon monoxide buildup, even if the large garage door is wide open. A CO detector just inside the door – and in the room above the garage – alerts you of elevated carbon monoxide levels entering your home.

At the Proper Height

The best height to mount carbon monoxide detectors is on the wall a few feet from the ceiling. Models with digital readouts are best placed at eye level.

Why At the Proper Height?

Carbon monoxide weighs about the same as air, but it’s often carried upward in hot air produced by combustion appliances. Detectors near, but not on, the ceiling are best to catch this rising air as quickly as possible. Digital readout models are simply easier to read when placed at eye level.

At Least 15 Feet Away from Combustion Appliances

Combustion appliances include fossil fuel-powered stoves/ovens, furnaces, fireplaces, water heaters, and more. Keep carbon monoxide detectors at least 15 feet from these fuel-burning appliances.

Why At Least 15 Feet Away from Combustion Appliances?

Some appliances give off a tiny, harmless amount of carbon monoxide when they first start up. This dissipates quickly in the air, but if your CO detectors are positioned too closely, they could give off false alarms.

Away from Areas of High Heat and Humidity

Avoid installing carbon monoxide detectors in bathrooms, in direct sunlight, near supply registers, or close to appliances that generate heat.

Why Away from Areas of High Heat and Humidity?

Carbon monoxide detectors have certain tolerances for heat and humidity. Installing them away from these locations helps reduce false alarms.

Code Requirements

As of October 2015, 29 US states have codes related to carbon monoxide detectors. Many of them reiterate the tips here, such as installing detectors near sleeping areas or on each floor. Visit the National Conference of State Legislatures website for specific laws that apply in your state.

Need Help Installing Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

We can help keep your home and family safe with properly installed carbon monoxide detectors. Contact Mr. Electric® today to learn more.