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Hey, you're in the home improvement zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Security Systems and Tips Category

Improvement Project:

How to install a carbon monoxide detector.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

  • Carbon monoxide detector(s) (usually comes with screws)

  • Anchors

  • Screwdriver

  • Awl

  • Plastic clips (with included nails or trim nails)

  • Small straight edge/ruler

  • Power drill with the appropriate bit

  • Tape measure

  • Pencil

  • Paper

  • Cigarette

  • Lighter



Having carbon monoxide detectors in your house is just as important as having smoke detectors.  In fact, like smoke detectors, there should be at least one carbon monoxide detector in every bedroom and hallway of your house.  If your house has an attic, garage or basement, each should also have a carbon monoxide detector.  Carbon monoxide detectors can either be wired to operate on electricity and/or independently on batteries. In this instance, the installation of an electric carbon monoxide detector is discussed.

Caution: Of course, when dealing with sharp objects, such as a screwdriver, or with combustible material, such as a lighter, make sure you take precautions.

Installing an electric carbon monoxide detector can be done in a few steps, and here's how:

  1. The carbon monoxide detector should be placed about 7 inches down from the ceiling of a room; use a tape measure if you must to ascertain where the carbon monoxide detector may be placed given this approximate 7-inch criterion.

Measure the distance that spans between the top screw hole and bottom screw hole of the backside of the carbon monoxide detector, and then use this distance measurement to determine, and then actually puncture with an awl, the holes--with such a measurement distance span--in the wall in the 7-inch-below area of where the carbon monoxide detector will be installed. (Should you find it necessary, using a straight edge or ruler, you can mark where the two holes will be in the wall with a pencil or awl, and then use a power drill with an appropriate bit to drill in such holes.)

  1. If you find it necessary, install screw anchors in the screw holes just made in the wall.

  2. With a screwdriver, install the two screws so that ultimately about 1/8 of an inch of the heads of both screws stick out from the wall; these are which the carbon monoxide detector will be attached to.

  3. Place the backside of the carbon monoxide detector over and onto these screws so that the sticking-out screw heads lock into the detector's backside holes, all so that the detector becomes securely attached to the wall.  See the manufacturer's instructions for further information.

  1. Plug the plug of the power cord of the carbon monoxide detector into the nearest electrical outlet, and secure the length of the power cord with plastic clips as is necessary.  You may want to have the cord be concealed as much as possible, so consider installing the carbon monoxide detector close to a a furniture piece or curtains; however, in no event should the vents of the carbon monoxide detector be covered.

Important note: Test the carbon monoxide detector per its manufacturer's instructions; the carbon monoxide detector should be tested on a regular basis.  You may want to test the sensing capability of the carbon monoxide detector by placing a newly lit cigarette (using a lighter to light it) in front of it for about 5-7 minutes.  Be very careful of your surroundings, making sure you take all necessary precautions, including having a fire extinguisher on hand.

That's what it takes to install a carbon monoxide detector.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


Free Home Security System



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