Service Today Safety Guide: Where Should Carbon Monoxide Detectors Be Placed?

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Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors, along with smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, are key safety features in your home. You cannot see CO gas; nor can you smell or taste it. Yet this substance can cause severe illness and death. While maintaining your furnace and not letting your car run in the garage can reduce the risk of exposure, carbon monoxide can still be a threat. CO detectors alert you of trouble, so you can get out, but placement is critical to them functioning as they’re intended to. Here’s a look at where carbon monoxide detectors should be placed:
  • In every bedroom.
  • In each hallway near a sleeping area (one detector at each end of hallways over 40 feet long).
  • At least one for every level of your home (at the top of the stairway).
  • Near an attached garage.
  • The bottom of a stairway leading to a basement.
  • In the living area.
  • Near the stove or furnace (at least 10 feet away).

How to Mount a Carbon Monoxide Detector

  • The alarm should be mounted on the ceiling, at least 6 inches from a wall.
  • If mounted on a wall, it should be at least 6 inches below the ceiling.
Carbon monoxide has almost the same density as air. Therefore, it tends to disperse evenly throughout a room. If it goes off, then assume there is CO everywhere and not just at the location of the sensor.

Where Not to Place a CO Alarm

It’s essential that the alarm is placed so it provides the most accurate readings possible. It should be positioned at least 5 to 15 feet from a fuel-burning appliance, and the unit should not be covered or obstructed in any way. Don’t put a carbon monoxide detector:
  • Next to a door or window
  • In a dead air space
  • Close to a fan, vent, or duct
  • In direct sunlight
  • Closer than 10 feet from a cooking appliance

How to Mount a CO Detector

Here are some basic instructions for mounting a carbon monoxide alarm, but remember to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer, as each model can differ slightly from another. To install the device:
  • Mark the mounting holes on the wall or ceiling, using the device’s mounting bracket as a guide.
  • Drill a hole where you placed each mark, using the bit size specified by the manual.
  • Insert screw anchors in the drilled holes, making sure they’re flush with the surface.
  • Align the mounting bracket with the holes and secure it with the screws provided.
  • Insert batteries (if the alarm uses them), or activate the internal battery (if it’s receiving power, an indicator light may flash or the unit may beep).
  • Attach the alarm to the mounting bracket, and then test the unit.
Usually, a CO alarm has a button to press and hold, which activates a test sequence. The unit should sound when you test it. If not, check the manual for the proper steps to take. Alarms that don’t test properly should be replaced. Modern carbon monoxide detectors can have various features. It’s important to learn how to use every feature. In addition to CO detection, some models can indicate low batteries, loss of power, or end of operating life. Being able to interpret the unit’s indications can help you respond properly to threats or otherwise act accordingly.

Why Keep Smoke and CO Alarms Separate?

Combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are quite common. However, it is best to install separate units. Carbon monoxide mixes with air. It tends to concentrate closer to the floor, while smoke rises toward the ceiling. If you install a combination device, mount it at the height recommended for smoke detection and install a backup CO-only device at knee level.

Service Today: We Help Keep You Safe

We specialize in smoke and CO alarm installation in the Twin Cities area. Don’t guess “Where should carbon monoxide detectors be placed?” Our electricians know the best spots to put them and will ensure they’re installed correctly. Minnesota requires CO detectors in all new construction homes permitted as of January 1, 2007, all single-family homes, and all existing multi-family or apartment dwelling units. To have a carbon monoxide alarm installed or replaced, call (888) 743-0053 today!