A lot of our clients ask us, "Do I need carbon monoxide alarm in every room?" Most homeowners realize the need for carbon monoxide detectors, and many states have regulations requiring landlords to provide them in rental homes. Proper placement is crucial, particularly if you intend to have only one or two in your home.
Many people die of carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping, making it important to have a detector in or near your bedroom. You want to know the presence of carbon monoxide before it reaches your room, so place the detector in the hallway nearby. This enables the alarm to warn those in other bedrooms connected to the same hallway or to wake up sleepers in other parts of the home. Install at least one CO alarm on every level of your home, in the basement, and near an attached garage.
First and foremost, carbon monoxide is toxic. Any appliance that burns fuel will give off this colorless and odorless toxic gas, so ventilation is always installed to expel the fumes outside properly.
However, now and again, something needs to be fixed. 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.
Carbon monoxide detectors work similarly to smoke or fire alarms – they sound an alarm once carbon monoxide is detected in the air. It will go off before you even start showing symptoms.
If there are fairly low carbon monoxide levels, around 50 parts per million (ppm), the detector could take up to 8 hours to sound an alarm. Higher levels (over 150ppm) can set it off within minutes1.
These are the three different types of carbon monoxide detectors, which work in different ways:
When it comes to where to place carbon monoxide detectors and how to ensure that you have an effective early warning system in place, placing is one most important considerations.
We recommend choosing carbon monoxide alarms with the most accurate sensing technology available. Carbon monoxide poisoning is America's leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. At a minimum, industry experts suggest a CO alarm be installed on each house level -- ideally on any level with fuel-burning appliances and outside of sleeping zones.
Additional CO alarms are suggested 5-20 feet from sources of CO, like a furnace, water heater, or fireplace. Alarms can alert you to problems only after smoke or carbon monoxide reaches their sensors. Choose locations without obstructions where the alarm stays clean and protected from adverse environmental conditions. Don't place the unit in dead air spaces or near a window or door.
You're not alone if you need help determining where to install CO detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors are less common than smoke alarms, leaving many wondering where to place them. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says proper carbon monoxide detector placement is "on each level of the home and outside sleeping areas."
It's important to understand how carbon monoxide works for more specific spots. It's produced by flame sources or fuel-burning machines such as fireplaces, furnaces, gas driers, water heaters, and vehicles. The gas is slightly lighter than air and will rise, which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The best place for a CO detector is on a wall approximately five feet from the floor, where the air can be measured at a height that people in the residence are breathing. A reasonable alternative is putting the detector on your ceiling six inches from the wall. Here are the best places to install CO detectors by room.
The key to placing a CO detector in the kitchen is to avoid mounting it near or over a flame-producing appliance such as a stove, grill, or fireplace. Install a detector 5 to 20 feet from a fire source to avoid false alarms.
As mentioned, the CPSC recommends at least a single carbon monoxide detector on each level of a home, outside sleeping zones. The suggestion is based on having a minimum number of detectors. Putting one in the hall allows all bedrooms to hear the warning if CO gas is detected -- which is particularly important as the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mild enough that they won't wake you.
If you have multiple detectors, installing them in bedrooms is also a good idea.
We suggest a CO detector in the basement since laundry machines, water heaters, and furnaces are all potential sources of carbon monoxide -- and are often kept in the basement. In addition, installing a CO detector in the room or space over an attached garage is a good idea, as vehicles are one of the most common CO producers.
Having carbon monoxide and smoke detectors in your home doesn't automatically mean you and your family will be safe. There are many things to consider:
1. The number of smoke detectors needed and their placement: One working smoke or CO detector in your home will not guarantee your safety. Multiple smoke detectors should be placed throughout your home.
Smoke detectors should not be placed in your kitchen or garage because smoke from cooking or exhaust from your car could set them off constantly.
2. Testing: Fire experts recommend testing your smoke alarm(s) once a month by pressing the test button on the alarm. If the alarms in your home are interconnected, one push of the test button should set all of them off. If they're not connected, press the test button on each alarm. If your alarm doesn't go off after pressing the test button, the batteries in the alarm should be replaced. Never use an open flame to test your alarm(s).
3. Maintenance: Smoke and CO detectors require very little maintenance; however, it's good practice to change your batteries twice a year, when Daylight Savings Time begins and ends. It's also a good idea to occasionally vacuum away dust and cobwebs in the area around your detector.
4. Replacing detectors: Smoke detectors last about ten years. Experts recommend replacing them after ten years, even if they work fine. The manufacturer of my CO detector recommends replacing it after seven years. Always refer to the instruction manual for your smoke and CO detectors to be safe so you know when to replace them.
Are you planning to have carbon monoxide alarms and security system monitoring on your property but don't know where to begin? Contact us today!