Best Location For Carbon Monoxide Detector: (5 Good and The Bad)

Most people know about smoke alarms and the dangers of inhaling smoke, but they may not know as much about carbon monoxide dangers. Medical and emergency officials say carbon monoxide detectors are a good thing and all homes should have them. They are as important as a smoke alarm.

The problem with carbon monoxide is it has no smell so you may not know it is there. There are some symptoms, like headaches, dizziness, nausea and so forth, but if you are asleep you will not notice those.  People who die from carbon monoxide poisoning usually do so at night when they are asleep. The best place for co alarms is near sleeping areas.

it is important to have one but there are a lot of homes that do not have them yet. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 96 percent of homes in the United States have smoke detectors, but only about 25 percent have a carbon monoxide detector. Carbon Monoxide is an invisible gas that is released anytime anything burns. A stove, lantern, a candle, or an engine all emit carbon monoxide.  A CO2 alarm or CO2 detector then should be a part of your home security.

According to the National Safety Council, 400 or more people die each year in their sleep inhaling carbon monoxide.  As many as 4,000 are injured or suffer real health effects, and there are an estimated 20,000 emergency room visits related to this gas each year.

A little carbon monoxide gas in the air is normal, but it can build up and reach a dangerous level.  Winter is prime time for the gas to build up since doors and windows are closed, and heating devices are in use more. The National Safety Council recommends installing CO detectors in your home to ensure you are safe. Some companies are now selling devices that are both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The best place for carbon monoxide detector could be beside, on in combination with, your smoke detector.

Things You Might Not Know About Carbon Monoxide Detectors

smoke detector with smoke

Do You Put Carbon Monoxide Detectors High or Low?

There is not much debate about whether carbon monoxide detectors are needed, but there is some debate about whether one should be mounted high or low on a wall. Obviously, carbon monoxide detector placement is important, but what is the truth? You can find “experts” online who will tell you why it should be one way or the other.

Some say the gas is heavier than the air and concentrates at low levels, and the other side says it is lighter than air and concentrates higher. It might not be good to put them on the ceiling as you would for a fire alarm because it would read only that area.

An actual scientific study says there is always a little CO gas in the air, and that it blends in and builds up in all areas. A company called Elsevier, an academic research company, conducted a study and showed  It does not really matter whether they are installed high or low. The carbon monoxide does tend to start out high but infuses itself into the room at all levels at the same time.

Where Do You Need Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

Because most fatalities occur while people sleep, it is recommended they be played near any sleeping area.  The best location for a carbon monoxide detector in home is near bedrooms. Placing them in hallways near sleeping rooms is often a good idea.

You do not necessarily need one in every bedroom. If there are a few bedrooms off a hallway, one in the hallway will be sufficient. They should also be placed in any area that does not have good air circulation such as a basement.

How Far Should A Carbon Monoxide Detector Be From The Furnace?

Health officials say to place carbon monoxide detectors at least 15 feet from furnaces, stoves, or other appliances that may emit fumes.  CO detector needs to be close, but not too close.  Any furnace is going to emit some of this gas, and if it is too close you are likely to get some false alarms.

How Many Carbon Monoxide Detectors Do I Need?

At the very minimum, there should be at least one in every home. There should be one on every floor and one in the basement. If you have a hallway with a few bedroom doors opening into it, one detector will be sufficient for those bedrooms. While it is a good idea to have one on every floor, avoid having too many.  If you have an attached garage there should be one there, or near the door to the garage.

What Does a Carbon Monoxide Detector Sound Like?

A carbon dioxide detector will give off a beeping or chirping sound, and lights will flash if there is an excessive amount of gas in the air.

Where You Need To Have Carbon Dioxide Detectors

man fixing smoke detector

Carbon monoxide alarms can save lives, but they need to be in the right place. Here are five areas that make up the best location for co detector.

Near Sleeping Areas

Health officials agree the most important pace for these detectors is near sleeping areas. If you have a hallway with a few bedrooms going off that, one will be sufficient.

Near sleeping areas is the most important place because of the dangers of being exposed to the gas while you sleep. If you were awake you would likely recognize the symptoms and leave the area. Most deaths due to carbon dioxide have happened while people are asleep.

One On Every Floor

As noted, Carbon Dioxide permeates all the air at the same time. Still, it can get concentrated in one area and that is when it becomes an issue.  Areas that do not have some ventilation can become an area where the gas gets concentrate. For this reason, it is a good idea to put one on every floor. Depending on the size of the house, you might need one in sleeping areas and another one in another part of the house on the same floor.

Near An Attached Garage

If you let your car idle for even a few seconds while in the garage, it will emit a lot of CO gas and could become harmful.  This is especially true if you are working on the car, or close the door too soon. That gas can seep into your house through the door. Putting one on the inside of the house near that door is a good idea for that reason.

Near Stoves Or Furnaces

Appliances like stoves or furnaces are going to put off some carbon dioxide gas. Space heaters are also a culprit, as are fireplaces. Fire officials recommend no closer than 15 feet to avoid false alarms, but no further than 20 feet from the source.

In The Basement

It should be obvious, but some people don’t consider the basement a level of a house. it is the area most likely to collect CO gas since there is very little air circulation. Many times furnaces are here, so it is a good place for a detector. Make sure you have a co alarm there is as well as every level.

Where Not to Put A Carbon Monoxide Detector

house on paper

Closer Than 15 Feet To Appliances That Emit The Gas. 

All of these devices that produce heat, also produce the gas and a small amount is not harmful. It if is too close you may get a lot of false co alarms. This would apply also to fireplaces, so make sure your detectors are not too close.

Bathrooms, Sun Windows 

Changing humidity levels in these areas could cause false carbon monoxide alarms.  Humidity can also set off the alarm.

Where There Is Airflow

The gas will only build where there is no circulation of air. Near air conditioning or heating vents, or fans could keep it from detecting an actual problem.

Behind Furniture Or Curtains

Any obstruction could keep the detector from getting an accurate reading of the entire room, and it might not let you know if there is a problem.

Out of The Reach Of Children Or Animals

Detectors have a test button that kids might like to play with. Pushing it will set it off, resulting in a false alarm. The detector could also easily be damaged.

Conclusion: Stay safe

Carbon Monoxide can be deadly just as a fire can. A carbon monoxide detector is just as important as a smoke alarm when it comes to the safety of your home. The key is to keep the detector near sleeping areas, or areas where there is not good air circulation. A little in the air is normal, and if there is no air circulation it can concentrate to a dangerous level.

Detectors alert you at a certain level. There are also monitors that give you a constant reading of the level of carbon monoxide in the air. A smart home can also be monitored from a different place. A monitor tells you the level so you could know if you are close. There is a lot of information available from the National Fire Protection Association. To install carbon monoxide detectors consult the owners manual.

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About John Fox

ebbb364ee14268bd3b77496cab3d1d78?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Alarm Technician (CAT)
Education: Denver Security Academy
Lives In: Denver Colorado

John Fox has worked as a security consultant in Denver for over 20 years.
With Safe Now, he's taken those two decades of experience and decided to share it to help people online make the right security decisions for their businesses and families.

John writes security tips and guides, product recommendations, and prevention guides.

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