Home Improvement Simple Projects

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

This last week Rachael was off work so we got around to some house projects.  We put up smoke detectors.  Planted some pots with annuals, and purchased and installed a carbon monoxide detector.

The physical installation wasn’t hard, not at all.  You drill pilot holes, screw in two screws and mount the detector on the screws. No problem.  Of course my installation took more time and I made it more complicated than that.  See I opened the instructions and read through every warning or suggestion that they had.  Having never had a carbon monoxide detector in any home I’ve lived in ever, I wanted to make sure that I knew what I was dealing with.  The directions offer information on why its important to have a carbon monoxide detector.  They explain how carbon monoxide is the silent killer: odorless, tasteless, and invisible.  The directions explain the symptoms of having carbon monoxide poisoning and what to do if you experience the nausea, headaches, and confusion of carbon monoxide poisoning (get yourself and loved ones out of the house, call the authorities).  Scare tactics were smudged into every line and I read each line carefully taking upon me the weight and fear of carbon monoxide.  By the end I knew that buying the detector was the right thing to do and I couldn’t believe it had taken me all my life to get one.
The tools.

Ready to install the detector and eager for it to save my life from such a threatening and invisible killer I re-read the section called “where to locate your detector” to ensure that I was placing mine in an optimum location.  And this is where the trouble set in.  The instructions refused to tell me where to place it. It was like the instructions were written for someone with common sense except all of my common sense had suffocated by the silent but deadly six previous pages of warnings filling my brain with confusing thoughts of death and fear.
Here’s where my set of instructions suggested I place the carbon monoxide detector:
*If you only get one carbon monoxide detector for your house, place it near the bedrooms.
*Place the detector below 3 feet, but not where any pets or children could come in contact with it, tamper with it, or play with it.
*Place it at eye level so you can see the lights when the alarm goes off
*On the ceiling but not near any lights, fans, vents, doors, heat sources, smoke detectors, or in “dead air” spaces.
At the end of the section I was thinking that I got the carbon monoxide detector for childless, pet less, hobbits who live in huts with only bedrooms and three-foot ceilings, no heat, or comfort, or air.
Finally I did what any lazy person might do:  I selected one set of rules from the list of instructions and ignored the rest.  I placed the detector at eye level in the hall between the bedrooms.   This is where our thermostat happens to be located too, so I placed it just above the thermostat.  Then I stepped back to admire my work.

Here’s the thing the instructions don’t point out: the carbon monoxide detector is ugly. U. G. L. Y. it’s ugly.  And now it was right at eye level where I could eye it every time I walked to the bedrooms, or the bathroom.  Based on its hideous wall-with-a-boil-on-its-neck look I decided that eye level was not the place.  So I took it down leaving two vampire pockmarks in the wall, which will need to be patched, but at least it isn’t a festering plastic zit staring me in the face.

Since the instructions in the manual had failed me I turned to the internet.
“Hello internet”
“Hello Catherine”
And I did a search for carbon monoxide detectors placement.  From the internet I determined that it’s better to place the unit a bit higher up than lower because carbon monoxide is just lighter than air and it usually is dispersed through the house on warm air currents which rise, so having the detector up higher is better.
I ended up moving my detector about two and half feet up the wall from my eye level thermostat.  It’s below the ceiling line to ensure that it isn’t in “dead air” space but it isn’t bulging out at me waiting for my eye to catch on it’s corner and leave me half blind and carbon monoxide poisoned.
My verdict: if you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector in your house get one.  It’s recommended you have one for each level of the house, but if you only get one place it near the bedrooms.  It doesn’t take more than two minutes to install, just make sure that you put it up a bit out of the way so that it can’t be tampered with and you don’t ruin your eyes on it.  Also, read your instructions thoroughly to make sure that the model you buy doesn’t have better information than the model I bought.  Finally, enjoy piece of mind knowing you may have just saved lives.