How To Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector

1-2 hours

Learn how to install CO detectors to protect your home from dangerous levels of carbon monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a dangerous, colorless, odorless gas that humans can’t detect, so it’s important to have a CO detector installed on every level of your home, including the basement.

If you need to install carbon monoxide detectors, this project guide provides step-by-step directions on how to get the job done.

• If there is a carbon monoxide leak in your home, immediately go to the nearest fresh air location and call 911.
• Check with local codes for the number of alarms required for your home and their placement.
• Invest in a battery back-up to ensure your alarms work even in the event of a power failure.


Selecting locations for CO detectors

• It’s important that CO detectors be installed in the proper locations in your home.
• For this project, we’re doing a wall-mounted installation featuring a battery-powered model that comes with a mounting base, which separates from the detector itself.
• When installing a battery-powered alarm, place it a few feet down the wall from the ceiling, not on the ceiling.
• Check the manufacturer’s instructions for installation location guidelines and recommendations.

CO detector installation

• Select a drill bit slightly smaller than the size of the supplied wall anchors to ensure a snug fit.
• Use the mounting base to mark the screw holes on the ceiling or wall and drill holes where marked.
• Gently tap the plastic screw anchors provided into the drilled holes with a hammer.
• Drive the supplied screws partially into the ceiling or wall and line up the mounting base with these screws.
• Install batteries, place and twist the CO detector into position under the screws, tighten with a screwdriver and mount the alarm onto the base.

Maintaining your CO detectors

• Test your CO detectors at least once a month. On most units, this only requires the push of a button to test that the alarm sounds and the batteries are still working.
• Change the batteries about every six months, even if you’re not hearing warning beeps. If you have a lithium ion battery model, change the batteries every 10 years or so.
• Clean each alarm with a vacuum once a year to remove any dust or particles that may have accumulated in the unit.
• Check the manufacture date on each unit periodically and replace them once they reach their expiration date.