Carbon monoxide detectors are an important safety feature for any home or apartment. These unobtrusive little gadgets will detect carbon monoxide leaks that happen from any combustion appliance such as a furnace, oil furnace, stoves, appliances or chimneys.
So what would be the most appropriate carbon monoxide detector placement?
Carbon monoxide is a by-product of combustion. The detectors sound a loud buzzer type warning before levels reach 100 parts per million in 90 minutes, 200 parts per million in 35 minutes or 400 parts per million in 15 minutes. According to the UL Standards the alarm must sound a warning before the average healthy adult begins to experience symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Because of the importance of carbon monoxide detection placement of the detectors is paramount. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends that the carbon monoxide detector placement be located near sleeping areas, where it will wake up residents if it alarms. Additionally there should be an alarm on each level of the residence. (1)
But there are other considerations for carbon monoxide detector placement. The detectors should not be placed next to or above a fuel-burning appliance that may give off small amounts of carbon monoxide when they start up. This can lead to an alarm sounding when no reason for warning exists.
Carbon monoxide detector placement should also not be done within fifteen feet of heating or cooking appliances or near humid rooms like the bathroom or an indoor sauna.
Carbon monoxide is roughly the same weight as air but it will rise with warm air. For this reason many companies suggest mounting the detector on or near the ceiling. This also removes the detector from interference from pets or children.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), carbon monoxide is the number one cause of poison deaths in the United States. So carbon monoxide detector placement and an early warning system is paramount to the health and safety of you and your family. (2)
If the alarm goes off the manufacturer of First Alert carbon monoxide detectors recommends that you first turn off all appliances that use combustion and open windows to exchange air. Call a qualified technician to inspect your appliances before restarting them.
Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are headache, dizziness, and vomiting. They mimic the flu or stomach flu but if more than one person in the house has the same symptoms at the same time it’s time to consider carbon monoxide. If people are exhibiting symptoms you should call the fire department, open the windows and move to the outside of the home. Do not re-enter until the house has been aired out and the problem corrected.
Common causes of the carbon monoxide alarm are inadequate ventilation of the home or running the automobile or other gas powered machinery in the garage. The atmosphere of the home is actually at lower pressure than the outside and the gas is drawn into the home. Burning charcoal is another tremendous producer of carbon monoxide (CO) gas. Never grill in the house or garage.
If a professional comes to inspect equipment after an alarm be sure that the gas or oil furnace has no leaks and is well vented. Check the furnace flame, burners and ignition system; chimneys and venting systems should be checked for blockages; venting and fan systems on all fuel burning appliances should be inspected; stove pilot lights can be a source if not properly vented to the outside.
Carbon monoxide detector placement is a quick, easy and low cost safety feature you can add to your home that will decrease your risk of the number one cause of poison deaths in the United States.
(1) Consumer Product Safety Commission: Questions and Answers
(2) Journal of the American Medical Association: Carbon Monoxide
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Frequently Asked questions
MayoClinic: Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Consumer Product Safety Commission: Carbon Monoxicde Alarm in Your Home