How to Mount a CO Detector

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Carbon monoxide, or CO, is an odorless, colorless toxic gas produced by the incomplete combustion of many common fuels including gasoline, wood, charcoal, oil, kerosene, natural gas and propane. Common sources are malfunctioning appliances such as furnaces, ranges, water heaters or space heaters, and any equipment powered by an internal combustion engine such as portable generators, lawn mowers and cars. Because they cannot see or smell carbon monoxide, many people become ill or die before they are aware of the problem. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, a carbon monoxide detector should be installed near the sleeping area or outside each individual bedroom in every home.

Things You'll Need

  • Carbon monoxide detector
  • Stud finder
  • Pencil
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Screws
  • Batteries
  • Determine the installation location. If you only have one detector, it should be installed at a central location outside the main sleeping area. Ideally, a CO detector should be installed outside of the bedrooms in each separate sleeping area, on every level of the home, and in any area where required by local code.

  • Read the installation instructions for the CO detector. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for mounting height and placement. Because carbon monoxide is roughly the same density as air, it can either rise or fall depending upon the ventilation currents of your house. The manufacturer will provide the best information for placement based on the operation of your specific detector.

  • Use the stud finder to locate the wall stud closest to the chosen location and height. If you do not have a stud finder, tap along the wall lightly. The sound of your tapping will change slightly, becoming less hollow, as you tap across the stud.

  • Mark the location for the mounting screws. Separate the body of the CO detector from the mounting base. Place the base against the wall, over the stud, at the chosen location and height. Using a pencil, place a small dot in the center of each of the large circular areas provided for the mounting screws. Mark the dot in the circular area only, not in the adjoining slots. Place the mounting base to the side.

  • Mount the detector base. Drill a small hole at the location of each pencil mark. You can skip this step if you do not have a drill, but pre-drilling makes screw installation easier. Tighten the screws into each hole approximately halfway, using the screwdriver. Slip the detector mounting base over the screws, and move it slightly to the side until the screws are against the far end of the slotted area. Tighten the screws until the mounting base is firm against the wall.

  • Secure the detector to the base. Check to ensure that the detector is equipped with the proper batteries. If not, install the required type and number. Place the CO detector onto the mounting base and snap it into the the base securely.

  • Test the CO detector to ensure proper operation. Locate the test button on the front of the detector and push it firmly. The detector should alarm within 30 seconds.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a CO detector that has been tested and certified by a recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Test your CO detector at least once a month and replace it according to the manufacturer's recommendations.
  • If the CO detector alarm sounds, immediately move to fresh air, either outside or by an open window or door.
  • Constant exposure to high or low temperatures or high humidity will shorten the life of your CO detector.
  • Replace batteries at least once a year. A detector with dead batteries cannot alert you of dangerous carbon monoxide levels.
  • Avoid installing CO detectors directly above fuel-burning appliances, near heating vents or in areas that could be covered by furniture or drapes.

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  • Photo Credit fire image by Zbigniew Nowak from Fotolia.com
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