CO AlarmAn investment in a carbon monoxide alarm is the first step to a safer, healthier home. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that could be emitted by any faulty fuel burning appliance, which results in the death of around 30 – 50 people each year in the UK. The gas is odourless, colourless and completely undetectable, until the point that someone does not wake up in the morning.

As well as selecting a reliable, effective carbon monoxide detector for your home, it’s important to pay attention to where you place the device. Here are some tips for getting the placement of your carbon monoxide alarm right, so that should you ever need it, it does the job you’ve bought it for.

Where not to put it

There are some places you should really avoid placing your CO detector. These include:

  • Above or close to a gas oven, stove or kitchen appliance
  • Within a meter of a boiler, heater or fire
  • Above your fireplace, wood burner or open stove
  • In hot or humid areas, such as bathrooms, in direct sunlight or near heat generating appliances such as radiators
  • In a draughty area, such as near an open window
  • Behind curtains or other obstructions
  • Anywhere that children can reach

This might sound like a lot of places where you cannot install your carbon monoxide detector, but most of these are really just common sense.

Which rooms should you install it in?

The obvious place to install a CO detector is in the rooms which have a fuel burning appliance. This is most commonly in the room where your gas or oil fired boiler is, as well as in any rooms with a standalone heater supplied by gas, oil, coal or bottled fuel. Wood burners release less carbon monoxide than fossil fuelled appliances, but they can still go faulty and create a hazardous environment.

As well as thinking about placing the alarm in the heated rooms, you should think about where you go to sleep. If you have a particularly large house, there is a chance you may not hear an alarm by your boiler down in the basement. In this situation, you should also place alarms in the bedrooms or nearby, so that you can be sure you’ll be woken if something goes wrong.

How high should the carbon monoxide alarm be installed?

Carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air, with a specific gravity of 0.9657. Air has a gravity of 1, so in theory the fumes should rise upwards towards the celling. However, in the case of warmed air from a faulty heating appliance, pools of carbon monoxide can frequently appear below the ceiling height, trapped by exposed beams, light fittings or other architecture in the home.

For this reason, Which? recommend installing your CO detector at a height at least 15cm down from the ceiling of your room. According to their research, you could in fact mount it at breathing height, maybe on a shelf or bookcase rather than pinning it to the ceiling itself.

Top tips for fitting your carbon monoxide detector

Here are some key tips to ensure your CO detector is fitted effectively every time:

  • Aim to install an alarm in every room that has a fuel burning appliance
  • Position the alarm at your breathing height, or at least 15cm from the ceiling
  • Follow any manufacturers instructions on fitting, servicing and testing the alarm
  • Test the alarm using the test button at regular intervals
  • Keep it at least a meter away from fires, cookers, heaters or boilers, although still in the same room

Consider choosing an alarm that comes with a ‘sealed for life’ battery, as these are completely tamper proof and will avoid the temptation to remove the battery for use in another appliance.

Installing a carbon monoxide detector is a bit of a no brainer. They usually cost just a few pounds to buy, and could save your life if something goes wrong. You can further protect yourself and your family from carbon monoxide poisoning by adhering to a regular service and maintenance schedule. Talk to New Age Plumbing and Heating to find out when your next boiler service is due, and stay safe and warm in your home all year round.

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