How many carbon monoxide detectors are needed in a house and where is it best to place it? Is it better to place it close to the ground or close to the ceiling?


2 Answers 2


The International Association of Fire Chiefs recommend a carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. A detector should be located within 10 feet of each bedroom door and there should be one near or over any attached garage. Each detector should be replaced every five to six years.

enter image description here

Positioning them at head height is recommended, and Be-Alarmed suggests:

  • Do not place the alarm in a cupboard, behind furniture, near an outside door or ventilation ( e.g. extractor fans or cooker hoods)
  • Do not place alarms directly next to fires, boilers, cookers or heaters – the alarm should be at least 1 meter away from any of these appliances
  • Do not place an alarm in an area of high condensation and steam such as a bathroom or kitchen or sources of steam and condensation
  • The alarm should not be placed on a ceiling like a smoke alarm
  • I don't understand why it's not good to place the CO detector close to the furnace and in the ceiling. Is it just for limit the call to the emergency service?
    – ucsky
    Mar 3, 2013 at 17:45
  • Too many false positives if you place them too close to the furnace. And the ceiling may not pick up CO, as it is slightly heavier than air.
    – Rory Alsop
    Mar 3, 2013 at 18:30
  • 1
    About the ceiling, I still wonder where goes the CO. I'm not sure that the CO will move differently than the air. By the way the density of CO (1.145 kg/m^3 at 25 C) is smaller than one of air (1.1839 kg/m^3 at 25 C). Here is a link of CO manufacturer who said that CO is lighter than air firstalert.com/faqs/co-alarm/…
    – ucsky
    Mar 3, 2013 at 18:52
  • 1
    Hmmm - the page I was reading said avoid the ceiling and floor, as the CO was only slightly different so it would move with airflow. I'm guessing I misread lighter/heavier - either way, it is very similar, so ceiling is not good, unlike heat detectors etc.
    – Rory Alsop
    Mar 3, 2013 at 19:03
  • 2
    Whatever you do, make sure you have one on the same floor as where you sleep
    – Steven
    Mar 4, 2013 at 1:46

I work in EHS with a mobile fleet that people sit and work in, so this is a very common question I get asked. It is a common misconception that CO is heavier than air so the detectors should be near the floor. In fact, they are slightly lighter than air, but not significant enough that it will rise upward. The molar mass of air is 29g/mol, O2 (oxygen we breathe) is 32g/mol, and CO 28g/mol. As such, CO will move with air flow. The optimal placement is at head height in the room. If placing in your living room where you mostly sit on the couch and watch TV, optimal placement would be at the average head height sitting on your couch; Pillow level in bedrooms; etc.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Aug 2, 2019 at 23:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.