Unfortunately, over 500 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year in the United States. These deaths can be easily prevented if carbon monoxide detectors are installed in every home and business.
Where should carbon monoxide detectors be installed in your home? According to the National Fire Protection Association, carbon monoxide sensors should be installed in every bedroom, one outside every bedroom, one in any sleeping area that shares a wall with a furnace room, one outside every room with a fuel-burning appliance, and at least one detector on each floor, including the basement.
Why Do you need carbon monoxide detectors?
Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, will kill you in a matter of minutes if you are exposed to high enough levels. Carbon monoxide gas deprives your major organs of the oxygen they need to function and the worst time to be exposed to CO is at night because you will go to sleep and never wake up.
You will not know if you are exposed to carbon monoxide because this deadly gas has no odor, color, or taste. The only way to know that you’re are a victim of this poisonous gas is by installing an adequate number of CO sensors throughout your home.
Where should you install carbon monoxide detectors?
Carbon monoxide is almost the same weight as air, so it does not rise or sink like other gasses.
Instead, it mixes evenly with the air that you breathe, and depending on the airflow of your house, it can either linger in one area for a long time or spread quickly to other parts of the house.
Because of this, we need enough sensors installed throughout the house to detect the gas quickly before harming or killing someone.
Install one CO sensor outside your furnace room
Your heating appliances are the number one source of carbon monoxide if not vented properly.
A furnace burns either natural gas or oil to heat water, and the natural byproduct of burning gas or oil is carbon monoxide.
A CO detector should not be directly installed inside the furnace room as per most manufacturers’ instructions because small traces of carbon monoxide will be present near all heating appliances.
This small amount of carbon monoxide is not enough to harm us, but it may be enough to cause false alarms from our carbon monoxide sensors.
Instead, it is best to either install the sensors outside the furnace room or, if the area around the furnace is large enough, to install the CO sensor at least 10 to 15 feet from the furnace.
Install One CO detector outside your garage
Warming up your car inside the garage on a cold winter day is very dangerous.
Your car produces a tremendous amount of carbon monoxide and depending on the layout of your home, a sure way of filing the house with high enough levels of CO to kill anyone left inside the house once you leave.
We can not install a CO detector inside the garage because the sensor will go into alarm every time you drive your car into the garage.
But instead, a sensor installed inside the home near the garage will detect any gas that seeps into the house before it works its way throughout the house.
Install one CO detector inside every sleeping area
CO is deadliest at night because a person exposed to carbon monoxide in their sleep can die without anyone knowing about it. Some people like to sleep with their bedroom door open, while others prefer the door closed.
If the bedroom door is closed, having a CO detector installed in the living room will not help you if enough carbon monoxide gas is trapped in your room that can put you to sleep permanently.
That is why I installed carbon monoxide sensors in every bedroom of my house.
Install one CO detector outside every sleeping area
Having a CO detector inside and outside of every bedroom may seem overkill, but most building codes throughout the country now require this.
You don’t need on sensor outside of every single bedroom. One CO detector in the hallway within ten feet of every bedroom is adequate.
Install at least one CO detector on every level of your home
Again, since carbon monoxide gas doesn’t rise or sink, it is essential to have proper detection near living areas where you spend most of your days in the kitchen or living rooms.
When exposed to carbon monoxide during the day, you will feel flu-like symptoms such as dizziness and vomiting.
Still, most people end up lying down to rest which is probably the worst thing you can do when suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.
How high should a carbon monoxide sensor be installed?
According to the manufacturer’s instructions, you can mount carbon monoxide detectors at any height on the wall or ceiling, but I prefer to install them at a breathing height of four to six feet of the ground.
It is best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results. A diagram of sensor placement is included in the instructions.
What type of carbon monoxide detectors should you install?
Several types of CO detectors are available. Some can be installed by the homeowner, while others require a licensed electrician or security company.
Battery operated carbon monoxide detectors
Battery-operated CO detectors are the most cost-effective way of adequately detecting carbon monoxide. Since there are no wires, they can be installed anywhere you want.
The batteries in the new CO detectors have to be replaced every ten years, so they are affordable and maintenance-free.
Hardwired carbon monoxide detectors
Building codes require hardwired CO detectors to renovate or build a new home.
One of the main benefits of wired CO detectors is they are inter-connected, meaning that if one sensor trips, then all the sensors throughout the house sound.
The downside to hardwired CO detectors is that they are hard to retrofit into existing homes. Installing wiring for hardwired CO detectors usually requires making holes in the walls and ceilings.
Low voltage carbon monoxide detectors
Low voltage CO detectors are connected to your home’s security system. This type of carbon monoxide detector is my favorite type because they don’t require any batteries, and the central monitoring center monitors the sensors.
Even though low voltage sensors require installing wiring to every sensor, the wiring used is a lot thinner than line voltage hardwired sensors.
The thinner gauge wire can be easily hidden through walls, attics and, closets because the same electrical codes do not restrict them as high voltage wires.
Combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Combination smoke and CO detectors are great because you can have two sensors built into one. Combination sensors are available in all three types of sensors mentioned above.
You can purchase combination units in a battery, hardwired, or low voltage type. Having just one sensor in the place of two sensors is also a much cleaner look, especially if you have a sensor in every bedroom hallway, etc.
How much does a carbon monoxide detector cost?
The price of installing carbon monoxide detectors varies depending on the type and number of sensors installed throughout your home. Based on my experience, the following is an average cost:
Battery-operated CO detectors: $50 to $100
Hardwired CO detectors: $150 to $200 each
Low-voltage CO detectors: $150 to $200 each
Combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors: Depending on if it’s a battery-operated, low voltage, or line voltage sensor, combination sensors are generally $25 to $50 more expensive than their single-unit version.
Early carbon monoxide detection is critical in protecting your family against this deadly gas.
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