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Where Should I Put My Carbon Monoxide Detectors?

Dec 27, 2022|

Without a carbon monoxide detector, it’s almost impossible to tell when carbon monoxide (CO) gas is in your home. And by the time you realize it’s there, it’s often too late. When it comes to carbon monoxide detection, you want the most reliable equipment possible.

Something you may not have considered is that where homeowners place their equipment can be just as important as the quality of the devices they purchase. In this guide, we provide an overview of what carbon monoxide is and explain what you need to know about carbon monoxide detector placement to get maximum protection from your device.

Vivint CO and Smoke Detector

About carbon monoxide in your home

Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that comes from many of your home’s appliances. It has no smell or color. If you don’t have a CO detector installed, the only way to know it’s there is when you start getting sick from it.

Even then, many of the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning that build up — symptoms like dizziness, weakness, and vomiting — are similar to those of the flu, so you may not recognize the symptoms for what they are. And while taking a nap is a good way to fight the flu, it can be risky when you have carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide gas is dangerous to both humans and animals. When carbon monoxide is in your environment, you should get out immediately, move to an area with better air quality, and call 911. Emergency workers will identify where the carbon monoxide is coming from and tell you when it’s safe to return to your house.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has a full list of symptoms related to dangerous levels of CO poisoning listed on its website.

Where does carbon monoxide come from?

In your home, carbon monoxide is a byproduct of appliances that burn natural gas for fuel. A number of things in your home can be sources of carbon monoxide. They include:

  • Water heaters
  • Grills
  • Furnaces
  • Fireplaces
  • Gas stoves
  • Power tools
  • Dryers
  • Exhaust from vehicles
  • Generators

Does carbon monoxide rise or stay low?

When placing your CO detectors, keep in mind where carbon monoxide gas tends to settle in the air. Because CO is slightly less dense than air, it rises. It then can cause CO poisoning because it stays in the air over an extended period.

What to do when your CO alarm goes off

So what do you do if your alarm goes off? First of all, don’t ignore the beeping coming from your alarm.

The sensors in carbon monoxide alarms respond based on the concentration of CO in the air—the higher the concentration, the faster the alarm will respond. For low levels of carbon dioxide, it might take the alarm an hour to sense and respond. If levels are high, the alarm detects them in as little as four minutes. High levels of exposure can bring symptoms quickly, so it’s important to take action.

If your alarm sounds and you or your family members are experiencing symptoms, you should:

  • Immediately vacate your family and pets from the home and into fresh air.
  • Call 911 from your cell phone or a neighbor’s home.
  • Do not go back into your home until emergency responders have declared it safe.

If your alarm sounds and no one in your home is experiencing symptoms, you should:

  • Open the windows and doors to let air circulate to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Turn off possible sources of carbon monoxide, like space heaters or gas appliances.
  • Call the fire department to come and inspect the problem.

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Where should you place carbon monoxide detectors?

Place CO detectors more than 5 feet but less than 20 feet away from fuel-burning appliances so they work properly and to avoid false alarms. You should have a CO detector outside every bedroom in your home so it has a better chance of waking you up if a leak happens while you’re asleep.

If you have a basement with a bedroom, it should also have a CO detector. Otherwise, attics and basements without sleeping areas don’t need detectors. You should place a CO detector in your garage if it’s attached to your home. Cars burn fossil fuel and can emit significant CO levels.

Remember to keep your CO detectors far away from open windows or outside doors where fresh air could affect their ability to work. And don’t place your detectors in dead space areas like corners where air inside your home doesn’t circulate well. Additionally, ensure nothing is covering or obstructing your detector.

Review the manufacturer’s instructions that came with your device for additional information about where to place your particular model.

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How many carbon monoxide detectors do you need in your home?

The number of carbon monoxide detectors you need depends on the size and design of your home.

For example, if you only have a small living area, like a condo or apartment, one CO detector outside your main bedroom might be enough. If you have a multi-level home with several bedrooms, you’ll need several more CO detectors to stay safe.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has a set of guidelines to see how many detectors your home needs.

  • There should be at least one CO detector on each level of your home.
  • There should be a CO detector outside each bedroom.
  • In a small living area like an apartment or condo, the CO alarm should be near the main bedroom.
  • Only basements with sleeping areas need CO detectors.
  • Attics don’t need CO detectors.
  • Attached garages should have CO detectors.

How do smart carbon monoxide detectors work?

Smart carbon monoxide detectors work as part of your greater smart home security system. They can communicate with other smart systems in your home. For example, your smart CO detector might turn on your HVAC system fan when it senses toxic gas to clear the air.

Smart detectors can also send notifications to your phone if your home has a gas leak. If you’re at work but your animals or relatives are still at home, you can call 911 right away to help them.

Some smart detectors—like Vivint’s combination carbon monoxide and smoke detector—can even be connected to a professional monitoring service. Your security company can automatically call the fire department or other emergency services if CO gas or smoke is in your home.

Keep your family safe with a Vivint smart combo detector

Hopefully you’ll never have to deal with scary situations like a carbon monoxide gas leak or house fire. If an emergency ever does happen, having reliable smoke alarms and CO detectors can help you react to it as quickly as possible so you can keep yourself and your family safe.

Vivint’s combo smoke and carbon monoxide detector can take your security a step further. You’ll get professional monitoring from us, and our team will keep tabs on your alarms and send help if your smoke or carbon monoxide alarm goes off and we can’t reach you.

See how home automation can make your home safer. When you reach out to Vivint, our friendly, expert staff will answer all your questions about security systems and help you find the best systems and devices for your smart home setup. Give us a call at 855.822.1220 today.

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