Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors
Every home should have one or more CO alarms. This applies to homes with electric appliances as well if you have an attached garage, a fire place, or if you use portable kerosene heaters, etc. In the case of attached garages, the home may be under negative pressure from time to time (more air flowing out through vents than is coming in). When this is the case, air from the garage can be sucked into the home to make up the difference. When you start your car, just delaying for a few seconds before you pull out of the garage can leave enough CO in the garage to cause a problem.
CO alarms are necessary because there is no other way to detect its presence until it is too late. The gas has no odor, no color and no smell. Firefighters need special detection equipment to find the source. Back when CO alarms first hit the market, many fire departments were not trained or equipped to find CO. The firefighters would often respond to a CO alarm and tell the owner that there was no problem so it must be a faulty CO detector. After all, they couldn't see, taste or smell anything and everyone in the home appeared to be okay. They were wrong but did not know it because they did not have the equipment to find it.
The people appeared to be okay because the CO alarms are designed to sound before symptoms of CO poisoning appear. This was required so that people would have time to react while they were still clear-headed. Thankfully, most fire departments have now gotten the necessary training and equipment, and are less likely to miss the problem.
National standards recommend that a CO alarm be placed near the bedrooms close enough to hear it when the bedroom doors are closed. If the bedrooms are not together, additional CO alarms will be needed. In larger homes, just one CO alarm may not be close enough to other parts of the home to be heard. For example, if the CO alarm is upstairs and you have a family room on the lower level, you might need an additional unit to be close enough to hear it. If the room in in the basement, there will be two levels separating you from the CO alarm, so it is less likely that you will hear it. In this case, a CO alarm on each level is prudent.
You can buy battery-operated CO alarms or ones that need 110 volt power. Both types meet the same Underwriters laboratory requirements. In the past, the battery-operated units were more sensitive than the 110 volt type and some people preferred to be warned when even low levels of Co were present. The standards have changed, and CO alarms manufactured today only respond to higher levels of CO that are an imminent threat.
Since January 2005, there has been much action taken across the nation to ensure that CO detection becomes part of the residential life safety matrix. The following list attests to those efforts by various states as CO detection equipment becomes standard equipment in homes.
ALASKA: Effective January 1, 2005, every dwelling with carbon fuel-burning appliance or attached garage.
CONNECTICUT: Effective October 1, 2005, new residential 1 and 2-family housing.
DELAWARE: Wilmington: Every building of residential or mixed occupancy in which there are one or more residential units. Includes hotels.
ILLINOIS: Law requiring in dwelling units, within 15 ft of the bedroom passed on March 30, 2006. Still be to signed by governor and regulations developed. Chicago: Homes, apartments, class C buildings heated with CO-causing heat sources. Includes schools, nursing homes. Frankfurt: All new construction. Gurnee: No detail available. Lake Forest: New construction and remodeling of buildings with sleeping facilities and fossil fuel burning appliances or attached garages. Lincolnwood: New homes or remodels >$10,000 or when furnace replaced.
IOWA: Linn County
MASSACHUSETTS: Signed November 2005. Every building used in whole or part for residential purposes on change of ownership. Single/multi-family dwelling units must comply by March 31,2006 with battery operated, plug in with battery backup, AC/DC, or "qualified" combination smoke/CO which must have "simulated voice" as well as distinctive alarms. Those who choose to hardwire have until January 1, 2007 to comply. Regulations for hotels, etc. still be to developed. Abington: New residential construction, existing on change of ownership. Marshfield: CO alarms required when fuel burning appliance or power vent system added to home. Gas inspector can enforce (April 2005). Mashpee: Resale or refinance of older homes, new homes, and additions to older homes require the placement of one CO detector in the home. CO detectors are required by a town bylaw that was approved at annual town meeting in 1996.
MICHIGAN: Pontiac: Required in rental units by May 12, 2004; in owner occupied dwelling units by February 2005. Rental requirements located on uppermost floor or story. Detector operated by self-monitored battery. In rental units hardwired with battery backup (interconnected).
MINNESOTA: Minnesota's New Home Building Energy Code requires CO detector if a home has combustion appliances that are not direct vented.
MISSOURI: St. Louis: New and existing buildings with fossil burning heating unit, except in S or MF buildings with <20 units; new and remodeled existing S and MF residential homes.
NEBRASKA: Wahoo: Effective April 2006. New homes and homes undergoing additions must be equipped with hard-wired CO detectors on each floor. Under the new ordinance, builders must install the carbon monoxide detectors on every level of a newly constructed or renovated home. At least one detector must be in the immediate vicinity of -- but outside -- the bedrooms. Wiring must be permanent, and the device must not have a disconnection switch.
NEW JERSEY: Required in multiple dwellings, hotels and boarding homes. References NFPA 720/Building with three or fewer dwelling units added March 2003. One or more on new construction or change of occupancy. Ft. Lee: All SF, MF, enforced on change of occupancy. Village of South Orange: All single and multi-family homes and hotels (every level).
NEW YORK: Effective November 30, 2002 all newly constructed 1 and 2-family homes and co-op and condominium apartments. Existing homes and apartments must have one CO detector. July 2005 bill awaiting governor's signature covers hotels, apartments, dorms with FBA. New York City is under a separate building code. Albany: New and existing residential buildings except SF. Kingston: Each apartment unit, buildings 4+ units, CO causing heat sources. Greenburgh: All new buildings. New York City: Signed May 5, 2004 -- Effective December 1, 2004. Requires CO detectors to be installed in apartments, single-family homes, hotels and schools. One CO detector within 15 ft of bedroom or sleeping area. One time $25 fee may be passed on to tenants. No specification of type of detector. Also required in schools, hospitals, building/fire/health departments will promulgate rule. Rockland County: Required on every floor of all 1- and 2-family homes where bedrooms are located in all residences built or sold after January 1, 2004. Requires digital readout and battery backup. Also multiple dwellings, hotels, motels, rooming houses, and mobile homes. Suffolk County: Residential units, hotels, motels, one per every 10,000 sq. ft. of floor area on every floor in which an FFBA is located and every floor with sleeping rooms heated by warm air.
NORTH CAROLINA: Mecklenburg County (Charlotte): Required in all residences with fossil fuel burning appliances and in child care facilities.
OHIO: Brooklyn: New S and MF, enforced COO. Columbus. Eastlake: All new and "altered" residential units with 1+ FF appliance or HU on COO. Lakewood: No battery operated allowed. One per floor. Macedonia: New residential construction. Maple Heights: New residential construction hard-wired with battery backup. Northfield: New residential construction. Parma: New S and M-unit residential and all other new buildings with central fossil fuel heating. All existing buildings with central FF on COO or occupancy. Richmond Heights: All new construction and existing public assembly buildings require hard-wired. Existing 1- and 2-family residences, one on every level. Existing MF one in main utility level. WestfieldCenter: New and existing residential every level and basement. Willowick: New residential construction, dwelling units upon COO. All house trailers.
RHODE ISLAND: Required in new and converted residential occupancies. AC with BBU. Existing, requires separate smoke, CO. May be battery operated. COO. Effective 01/02 (IC); Required in hotels and dormitories hardwired or wireless "installed in accordance with NFPA 720 in every guest room and every living area and sleeping room within a guest suite." Apartments "every building" required to have "hardwired or wireless" "installed in accordance with NFPA 720" by July 1, 2005. Lodging or rooming houses same in "every sleeping room." One, 2- and 3-family dwellings; requires fire and CO detection system. For 3-family dwellings, interconnected hard-wired or supervised interconnected UL listed wireless smoke and CO detectors in all by July 1, 2008. Residential board and care, CO detectors by July 1, 2005.
TEXAS: Required in Day Care Centers and certain "family homes" (group homes) effective 09/01/03. Bellaire: New homes.
UTAH: One or more in new construction, AC + battery (hardwired NOT required); one or more in existing on COO, electric OR battery (or both); CO alarms also required in other residential buildings in which people sleep, including hotels, motels and tourist homes. All by October 2005 EXCEPT public buildings in which people do not sleep, effective November 2006.
VERMONT: "One or more" in new construction, AC + battery (hardwired NOT required); "one or more" in exciting on COO, electric OR battery (or both); CO alarms also required in other residential buildings in which people sleep, including hotels, motels, and tourist homes. All by October 2005 EXCEPT public buildings in which people do not sleep, effective November 2006.
WEST VIRGINIA: All new residential structures with fuel-burning heating or cooking sources.
WISCONSIN: Brown Deer: One per residence.
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