Useful and smart tips from the world of energy

How to correctly install and maintain a carbon monoxide detector?
Home, Safety


Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odourless, tasteless and colourless gas formed by incomplete combustion. Carbon monoxide is toxic to humans and animals.

Carbon monoxide is formed when there is not enough oxygen for combustion. Such a situation can be caused by insufficient ventilation or a blocked chimney, so that flue gases cannot escape through the chimney but accumulate in the room, reducing the amount of oxygen needed for combustion. The flue gases of a gas appliance are odourless and colourless, making it not possible for people to perceive when flue gases and carbon monoxide from a gas appliance enter the room. The most common source of carbon monoxide in everyday life is a furnace damper that is closed too early.

Since 2018, it has been mandatory in Estonia to install a carbon monoxide detector in all dwellings where a gas appliance connected to the chimney is located. Such devices are gas-fired water heaters and boilers in particular. Although a carbon monoxide detector is currently mandatory only for gas appliances connected to the chimney, it is wise to use it if your home has heating equipment that can generate dangerous carbon monoxide – wood-burning stove, fireplace, boiler, etc.

From 1 March 2021, carbon monoxide detectors will be mandatory in all buildings with a gas heater or gas water heater. A carbon monoxide detector is mandatory if the building (both homes and other buildings) has a solid fuel heater that can generate hazardous carbon monoxide – furnace, fireplace, stove, boiler, etc.

A carbon monoxide detector must be installed in both residential and non-residential buildings as soon as possible, but no later than on 1 January 2022.

Installation of a carbon monoxide detector

There are various detectors, so always follow the user manual of the specific detector when installing it. A user manual must be included with the detector.

The most suitable place for a carbon monoxide detector depends on several factors: the incinerator, layout of the rooms, the ventilation system, location of people in the rooms, etc.

As a rule, the detector is installed at a distance of 1-3 metres from the carbon monoxide source and at a height of 0.5-1.5 metres. The detector should not be located near ventilation systems and air ducts, as the carbon monoxide levels there may be lower than elsewhere.

In the case of a multi-storey residential building, it is recommended to install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor, also in each bedroom if possible.

A carbon monoxide detector is not to be installed:

  • above a sink or stove;
  • in a place where air flow to the detector may be obstructed by curtains or furniture;
  • in a place where the temperature falls below 10°C or rises above 40°C;
  • in a place where the detector could easily be hit or otherwise damaged;
  • in a place where there is dirt or dust which may interfere with the sensor of the device;
  • outside the building.

Maintenance is a breeze

The condition of a carbon monoxide detector must be checked once a month by pressing the test button. A beep confirms that the device is operational. A carbon monoxide detector must be regularly cleaned from dust. A cloth can be used for this purpose.

If the carbon monoxide detector has replaceable power supply, a regular intermittent beep or information display will show when the battery is low. This means that the battery must be replaced as soon as possible.