Carbon Monoxide Detector Placement: Where to Place CO Alarms in Your Home
by Erin Raub | Last Updated Feb. 7th, 2016
Carbon monoxide alarms help save lives everyday. Learn what they do, how to install them, and where you should place CO detectors.
What is carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” because it is odorless, tasteless and colorless. It’s also toxic, since the gas can prevent your body from properly transporting oxygen. If inhaled in high concentrations, carbon monoxide poisoning can happen quickly; it can also occur slowly if toxic gas levels build up slowly over time.
What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
People who have been exposed to carbon monoxide experience a range of symptoms that may include headaches, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, burning eyes and loss of consciousness. An acute case can result in brain damage and death. Note that children, seniors and people who have pre-existing respiratory or heart conditions are often more sensitive to the effects of carbon monoxide.
What are possible sources of carbon monoxide in my home?
Carbon monoxide is a natural by-product of many home appliances. If you use charcoal, gasoline, kerosene, wood, propane, natural gas or heating oil to create energy or heat – hot water heaters, grills, furnaces, fireplaces, stoves, room heaters, etc. – then there is potential for carbon monoxide in your home. It’s important to have these products installed by a professional, since proper installation, ventilation and maintenance will reroute any carbon monoxide emissions out of your home to keep your family safe.
What are carbon monoxide alarms?
Carbon monoxide detectors, also known as CO alarms, function similarly to smoke alarms. If carbon monoxide levels are present in your home, the detector will emit a sharp beeping sound to alert you to the danger. Like smoke alarms, it is important to change your CO detector batteries regularly; I like to schedule new batteries for Daylight Savings time change, since they make it easy to remember this twice-yearly swap.
How do I install a carbon monoxide alarm?
Heat and smoke rise, which is why we place smoke alarms high on the wall or ceiling. Carbon monoxide, however, mixes with the air. For this reason, it is preferable to install CO alarms at knee level – the approximate height of a sleeping person’s nose and mouth.
If you have young children or pets that could tamper (play) with your detectors, you can move them up to chest height. Another option is to place them in a hard-to-reach area, where even curious hands and overzealous tails would have a hard time reaching. Bear in mind that a CO detector should never be blocked by furniture, curtains or other objects, as restricted airflow can affect its function.
A single-function carbon monoxide alarm is recommended, but if you are installing a dual smoke-CO detector, place it on the ceiling so it can detect smoke.
Where should I place carbon monoxide detectors in my home?
Since we are most vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning while we sleep, it is important to place alarms near your family’s bedrooms. If you only have one CO alarm, place it as close to everyone’s sleeping area as possible.
Ideally, you should have carbon monoxide detectors placed throughout your home, as you do smoke alarms. You should place a CO detector in each major area of your home: in the kitchen, in your living/dining room, in your bedrooms, and the office. If you have children or elderly family members living with you, provide extra protection near their rooms. If you live in a multi-story home, be sure to place at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level.
If your furnace is located in the basement, be sure to place a CO detector there, as well. Likewise, if you have a gas clothes dryer, put an alarm in the laundry room. Place one in the garage, if you park your cars there. Wherever you have a solid fuel-fired appliance – anything that could produce carbon monoxide – you should also have a CO alarm.
TOP 5 Highest Rated Carbon Monoxide Detectors
If you haven’t found right carbon monoxide detector for your home, or are looking for a possible better option than the one you currently have, these are the top 5 highest rated detectors to help you decide.
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