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What's the Best Carbon Monoxide Detector Placement?

Posted: October 09, 2019

Protecting your family doesn’t just mean safeguarding against outside threats. Potential hazards within the home can also impact your family’s safety and well-being. To help keep your family safe, consider installing carbon monoxide detectors.

As a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas, carbon monoxide often goes undetected until dangerous levels are reached within the home. Knowing where to place carbon monoxide detectors can significantly reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.


Why you need carbon monoxide detectors

Carbon monoxide can cause significant health issues, ultimately resulting in death, if left undetected. This gas is  largely undetectable and therefore can be easy to overlook any leaks. This gas is emitted as a byproduct of combustion and is released into the air by commonplace things around the home, such as vehicles, stoves, heating systems, and water heaters. 


When inhaled, carbon monoxide attaches itself to the hemoglobin in red blood cells, preventing those cells from carrying oxygen throughout the body. This critical function is what allows major organs, such as the brain, heart, and nervous tissues to work properly. When too much carbon monoxide is inhaled, these critical systems are unable to function, which can ultimately result in death. 


According to the CDC, more than 400 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning and more than 20,000 visit the emergency room. With the appropriate life safety equipment in place, carbon monoxide poisoning is highly preventable. 


Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide poisoning can be difficult to detect. Early detection is key so it’s a good idea to know the warning signs. The Mayo Clinic suggests looking for the following symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning: 

  • Dull headache

  • Dizziness, nausea or vomiting

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Disorientation

  • Blurry vision

  • Passing out

  • Physical weakness

The signs of carbon monoxide poisoning are often likened to flu-like symptoms.

How carbon monoxide detectors work

There are three options when it comes to carbon monoxide detectors: Digital, portable, and wireless. Each one can be used for different applications to suit the needs of individual homes. Regardless of which device you use, all carbon monoxide detectors sound an audible alarm when elevated levels of carbon monoxide are detected.

Let’s take a closer look at the choices for carbon monoxide detectors:

  • Digital: These carbon monoxide detectors provide data regarding the exact concentration of carbon monoxide in the air. Users are able to track levels even if they are below alarm limits. 

  • Portable: These devices are commonly used as a mobile device for tracking carbon monoxide levels. Often, these are utilized when trying to determine the source of a leak.

  • Wireless: Wireless carbon monoxide detectors can be connected to additional products, such as vibrating pillow pads or strobe lights, to help notify of carbon monoxide alarms.


Tips for where you should place your detectors

Because carbon monoxide represents a significant danger but the gas is largely undetectable, it’s important that you place your detectors with care. Here are some tips for carbon monoxide detector placement throughout your home.

Place on each level of your home.

At a very minimum, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed on every level of your home. Carbon monoxide leaks are stay confined to floors so the presence of a detector on each level is crucial. Don’t forget your basement or any other attached structures within your home.


In addition, you should consider CO detector placement in any detached structures or garage areas. You want to make sure appropriate precautions are taken in any area where your family might spend time.


It’s a good idea to mount carbon monoxide detectors on walls, rather than ceilings. Your carbon monoxide detectors should be mounted below the ceiling line and approximately five feet above the floor


Rooms you’ll want protected

The ultimate goal of a carbon monoxide detector is to alert you of elevated levels of gas in enough time for a safe evacuation. Positioning the sensors near bedrooms and sleeping areas will ensure that all inhabitants will be woken by an alarm in enough time to vacate safely. It also helps to monitor the space closest to sleeping areas. 


According to the CDC, the elderly and children are at a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. For this reason, it’s important to provide additional protection near the bedrooms and/or sleeping areas for these individuals. Check out our article for more on protecting the elderly in your home


Carbon monoxide is emitted from common appliances in the home. Place a sensor in your basement or near your utility closet which houses your furnace. In homes with attached garages, it’s also a good idea to mount a device near or inside the garage. Keep in mind that a safe distance of 10-15 feet away from appliances is good to avoid false alarms, but you certainly want to be alerted early if a problem occurs.

Look for unobstructed areas with stable temperatures

Carbon monoxide detectors work best when they are positioned in areas that can easily maintain stable temperatures. Mount away from windows or other areas that may experience more frequent fluctuations. 


Also, install the device so that isn’t positioned in direct sunlight. And remember, place your carbon monoxide detector away from heaters, vents, radiators, bathrooms, or other appliances that generate heat. A steady temperature will help to prevent false alarms and ensure optimal functionality of your device.


Carbon monoxide detectors work best when they are free to measure the air unobstructed. Mount your carbon monoxide detector away from window curtains, furniture, shelving and where it is in plain sight at all times. 


In addition to providing an unobstructed space, carbon monoxide detectors should be placed where the air is flowing normally and is representative of the flow in the larger space.

Additional tips for avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning

 

Detectors are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. Even so, protecting your family is always best when you develop a multi-faceted approach. Here are some additional tips for preventing carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Regularly service your carbon-monoxide emitting appliances: Regular maintenance to these appliances will help ensure they are functioning correctly to help prevent the chances of carbon monoxide leakage.

  • Check your batteries: Develop a schedule for checking your batteries at least every six months. For example, you could use daylight savings time as a guide or perform a check on the first day of fall and spring. Choose a schedule that you can adhere to.

  • Ensure proper ventilation: When using things inside the home, such as space heaters or wood-burning stoves, make sure you are appropriately ventilating the area. Also, avoid leaving a car running in an attached garage, even with the garage door open.

  • Avoid using any generators and other charcoal-burning devices inside your home: Try to keep all charcoal-burning appliances safely away from your house to avoid leakage of carbon monoxide into your home. Never use any charcoal-burning device inside of your house as these emit carbon monoxide.

  • Clean your chimney: Have your chimney cleaned and inspected by a professional on a regular schedule. Blockages and disrepair could cause an unexpected buildup of carbon monoxide in your home. Also, ensure the flue is open during operation.

Expert assessments can help you determine correct carbon monoxide detector placement

 

There is a significant threat posed by carbon monoxide poisoning. For that reason, installing sensors in your home can seem overwhelming and somewhat stressful. Our experts at Protect Your Home will perform a full risk assessment in your home before installing equipment. This assessment will help determine optimal positioning of your sensors.


In addition, an ADT-monitored carbon monoxide detector can be tied into your home security system where you have additional visibility into any alarms. Attaching these devices to your security system gives an added layer of detection, helping to ensure that your home and family remain safe.


Our experts will handle the installation of your carbon monoxide detectors to ensure everything is functioning properly so you can rest easy knowing the hard lifting is done—and done correctly.