CO Detector Installation

CO Detector Installation

Written By Joseph Farmer, President of GTS Electric Company


Q: Should a home owner attempt to install carbon monoxide detectors themselves?

A: That depends. If your home already has interconnected smoke detectors installed (and if your house was built in the last 10 years or so, it probably does) then installing CO detectors is very easy and makes a great DIY project. You can verify this interconnection by pushing the “test” button on any of your smoke detectors- they should all activate and sound an alarm together.  If they do not-if they are not interconnected-then I would not recommend attempting rectify the situation yourself.

Before you begin any work on electrical devices of any kind be sure to de-energize the device by turning off the circuit breaker powering the device. In the case of smoke detectors, it is usually on a bed room circut, but don’t take that for granted; double and triple check. Safety first. Safety always!

Again, for optimum protection, you should install smoke and carbon-monoxide (CO) alarms that interconnect (they all sound at once) throughout your home. The illustration below shows you exactly where to install them. As a rule, smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling or on a wall no more than 12 inches below the ceiling and away from corners, windows, and vents. Read the manufacturer’s instructions. Also make a family escape plan and practice it for day and night escapes.


Place an interconnecting dual-sensor smoke alarm near the stairwell leading upstairs. And put an interconnecting CO alarm at least 20 feet from a furnace, water heater, or other fuel-burning appliances.

Kitchen and Living area

Place an interconnecting photoelectric smoke alarm 10 feet away from—but not inside—the kitchen. Put another interconnecting dual-sensor smoke alarm and an interconnecting CO alarm in the living area. (If your home has more than 1,000 square feet per level, your local building code might require a second smoke alarm.)

Sleeping area

Place an interconnecting dual-sensor smoke alarm in each bedroom and in the hallway. If the hall location is close to a bathroom, install a photoelectric alarm since steam can trigger nuisance alarms. And place a separate interconnecting CO alarm in the hallway.


Never put a CO alarm inside the garage, where car exhaust can trigger false alarms. Also don’t put CO alarms near any windows in your house, where fresh air can have the opposite effect.


Even if your attic isn’t finished, install an interconnecting dual-sensor smoke alarm. Even if this is not required by your local codes, I highly recommend it.