Carbon Monoxide Detector Placement: Where to Place CO Alarms in Your Home

Dashia Starr
Updated Apr 28, 2021
2 min read

Where to place carbon monoxide detectors

While you can purchase a carbon monoxide detector as a standalone device or part of a full home security system, it’s important that you place them strategically in your home. At least one carbon monoxide detector must be installed on each floor of your home, including the basement. You’ll also want to consider adding a detector in your garage if it’s attached to your home. And most importantly, install a carbon monoxide detector inside or directly outside of each bedroom or sleeping area. The effects of carbon monoxide are nearly impossible to detect when sleeping. If CO is detected, the alarm will sound to alert and wake you. Here’s what to keep in mind when installing carbon monoxide detectors in your home.

Always remember to...

  • Before installing, check to make sure the detector is approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to meet strict testing and safety requirements
  • Read the carbon monoxide detector’s manual before installing for proper set-up
  • Install CO detectors at least 15-20 feet from gas-powered home equipment including stoves, dryers and furnaces
  • Install CO detectors within 10 feet of your garage if it’s attached to your home
  • Connect multiple detectors when possible for all alarms to sound when one detects carbon monoxide

Don't install the detector...

  • Near any gas or fossil fuel area to avoid false CO detection
  • In humid or moist areas including bathrooms
  • In direct sunlight as it could overheat
  • Within reach of children to avoid easily tampering or damaging
  • Near windows or windy areas
  • Behind doors, cabinets, curtains or other areas to prevent CO detection

Carbon monoxide detector safety reminders

  • Install CO detectors at your knee height. Never position carbon monoxide detectors on the ceiling like you would smoke detectors. Carbon monoxide blends with your home’s air and does not rise. Follow your manufacturer’s manual to properly install your detector at the right height. Remember to keep kids and pets in mind during installation.
  • Test the detector monthly. To ensure that your CO detector is working properly, test the detector every month. Most detectors include a one-press test button designed to shine a light or sound an alarm that the detector is working perfectly.
  • Keep the CO detector clean. You’ll want to make sure your detector is free of dust, dirt and other particles that may prevent the detector from spotting and alerting you of carbon monoxide. Wipe the detector with a cloth and vacuum it at least once a year or more as needed.
  • Listen for low-battery alerts. When your CO detector is low on batteries, it should automatically sound a repetitive high-decibel alarm alerting you to check the detector immediately. Even if it doesn’t, as a best practice, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advises changing your CO detector’s batteries annually when turning your clocks forward for Daylight Savings Time.

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Home Security Writer

Dashia Starr

Dashia researches and writes on all things home automation and security. She focuses on the latest news, products, and providers to share only the best with you.

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