Where to Place a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Have you given any thought to installing carbon monoxide detectors and/or carbon monoxide detector placement in your home?

Twice a year, when the clocks change over, many of us go around the house and switch out all the batteries in all our smoke detectors. Right? It’s a lesson that maybe your dad taught you all those years ago, and one that’s stuck with you into adulthood.

But what about carbon monoxide detectors? What did your dad teach you about those?

Did you know, for example, that every year carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for hundreds of deaths in Canada, and hundreds (if not thousands) more emergency room visits?

Statistics are not always comfortable but they are worth noting. Installing carbon monoxide alarms in your home – properly and in the right places – can save your life. In Canada alone, there are over 200 hospitalizations and over 300 CO-related deaths annually. In other words, a carbon monoxide detector in your home isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  • Are carbon monoxide detectors currently installed in your home?
  • If not, do you know where to place the carbon monoxide alarms to ensure maximum efficacy and warning power?
  • Do you know why it’s important to have CO detectors in your home in the first place?

To read up on what carbon monoxide is, and why it’s so very important to have CO detectors properly installed in your home, check out our site page on this topic, here.

Do you still have questions? Call Premium Electric experts any time at 604-308-6195.

What Is Carbon Monoxide?

First and foremost, carbon monoxide is toxic. Any appliance that burns fuel will give off this colourless and odourless toxic gas so ventilation is always installed to properly expel the fumes outside.

However, every now and again, something can go wrong. When that happens, it can cause a potentially harmful buildup of toxic fumes within the home. CO detectors are designed to warn you if and when CO levels are dangerously high.

When it comes to where to place carbon monoxide detectors, and how to ensure that you have an effective early warning system in place, there are a few do’s and don’ts to consider.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Placement – Do’s

  • Do install a CO detector close to bedrooms, preferably no more than 15 feet from each bedroom or sleeping area in your home. For instance, place a CO alarm in between bedroom doors that are within 30 feet of each other.
    • Why? With furnaces switching on and off frequently during the night to keep your home at a steady temperature, CO gas leaks are especially common while you’re sleeping and defenceless. A working carbon monoxide alarm can prevent tragedy while you sleep.
  • Do install your CO detector at the proper height – at least five feet from the ground, and on the wall a few feet from the ceiling. If you choose a model with a digital readout, placing it at around eye level is perfect.
    • Why? Carbon monoxide weighs more or less the same as air, but given that it’s mostly associated with combustion appliances, it makes sense that it’s often carried upward in any hot air produced by said appliances. We recommend carbon monoxide detector placement at least 5 feet above the ground, but not at ceiling height – this gives you your best hope of catching rising, CO-laden air as quickly as possible.
  • Do install a CO detector throughout the home. Each floor, including the basement, should have its own CO alarm.
    • Why? Carbon monoxide is a dangerous toxic gas that can sometimes build and get trapped only on one floor of your home. For instance, if your basement furnace has a leak, the carbon monoxide levels may get dangerously high in the basement, even though the upper floors where you sleep may not have any dangerous CO levels. Without an alarm, the basement could potentially be extremely dangerous for anyone that enters it. Installing a carbon monoxide detector on every level of the home will ensure that all areas are protected, alerting you to danger no matter where the source may be located.
  • Do install a CO alarm near an attached garage – preferably within 10 feet of the garage entryway door inside the home. You might also consider adding other alarms in any rooms located directly above or beside the garage for good measure.
    • Why? Have you ever turned your car on and then let it idle while you sent that urgent text or email? Or turned it on to let the car interior warm-up before braving getting in yourself? Idling your car in your garage, or even just a covered carport is not recommended. It doesn’t take long for CO levels to get dangerously high, even if you open the garage door. CO detectors installed in the right places in and around your garage are very important and should not be ignored.

CO Alarm Placement – Don’ts

  • Don’t install your CO detector too close to combustion (fuel-burning) appliances – 15 feet is the recommended minimal distance for installations.
    • Why? When starting up furnaces, hot water heaters and other fuel-burning appliances like fireplaces and stoves, it is natural for these appliances to give off a little CO gas. It is generally quite harmless and easily dissipates. However, your CO alarm may sound if the carbon monoxide detector is placed too close to these appliances. They are very sensitive. Too many false alarms, and you won’t end up trusting your detector and believing it when the alarm is real! (The carbon monoxide alarm that cried wolf, so to speak.)
  • Don’t install your CO detector in areas with high heat and/or humidity, or in direct sunlight – think bathrooms, sunrooms, small laundry rooms.
    • Why? As already mentioned with proximity to combustion appliances, carbon monoxide detectors are susceptible to picking up tiny amounts of CO when placed alongside warm appliances etc., which can lead to false alarms. The same applies to heat and humidity in general, not just in relation to appliances.
  • Don’t install your CO detector near any sources of blowing air, such as a fan, vent or even a window that is frequently left open.
    • Why? Areas such as these will naturally have better airflow and may blow elevated levels of CO away from the detector itself. If the air circulation isn’t enough to remove or lessen the CO from the area, you could have a serious problem without even knowing it. When this happens, the detector thinks CO levels are acceptable, and the alarm won’t go off, but just a few feet away, on the other side of the room perhaps, the CO levels could be dangerously high.

One Final Thought About CO Detectors

This is possibly the biggest DO of all!

Do make sure that any carbon monoxide detectors you install in your home are properly installed and according to all manufacturer’s specifications. A carbon monoxide detector installed incorrectly is as useful as a guard dog with no bark or bite… but with the potential for even worse consequences.

Need Help?

When in doubt? Don’t do it yourself. Do let the professionals at Premium Electric install your smoke alarms and CO alarms for you.

When it comes to carbon monoxide detector placement, we know exactly how, where, and what to do to keep your home and family as safe as possible.

Based in Abbotsford, Premium Electric offers electrical services the clients throughout the Vancouver Lower Mainland area. All work is completed by fully certified journeyman electricians.

Please email us or call us at 604-308-6195

Or fill out our online contact form.

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