By Gene and Katie Hamilton
Carbon monoxide is an elusive gas that’s difficult to detect because it’s colorless, odorless and tasteless, which is why it’s called the silent killer. Thousands of people die or become sick each year from the gas that can form when a furnace or appliance that runs on natural gas or other fossil fuel fails to fully burn the fuel. A homeowner’s best line of defense is installing a CO (carbon monoxide) alarm that measures the amount of gas in the air and sounds an alarm before it reaches a dangerous level.
The price of a CO alarm varies based on the features included, such as voice alarms, remote controls, silence buttons, or a combined smoke alarm. A battery-powered device with a backlit digital display lets you read the CO level in the dark, a handy feature during a power outage. A plug-in device that works in any standard electrical outlet is convenient to use anywhere in the house and usually includes a 9-volt battery for protection during a short-term power outage.
One detector isn’t enough for a house, one should be installed on each level of your house, in the hall near the bedrooms and wherever most family members spend a lot of time. Install it on a wall so it’s eye level at least 15 feet away from cooking or heating appliances to prevent a false alarm. Don’t install one on the ceiling, next to doors or windows, behind furniture or draperies or near fuel-burning appliances.
To install a battery-powered unit in the ceiling or wall, a handyman will charge $90, which includes the alarm and the labor. You but you can buy one for $45 and install it yourself, saving 50 percent.
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Now you know the average cost to install a CO detector, which includes the labor and material, and what’s involved, so you can decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor. Don’t forget to adjust the cost to where you live by adding your ZIP Code.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020