What you need to know on carbon monoxide detectors

Q 1.  What is carbon monoxide?

A  Carbon monoxide is a gas produced whenever any fuel, such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal, is burned.  A person cannot see or smell carbon monoxide.  However, at high levels carbon monoxide can kill a person in minutes.

In addition, there are well-documented chronic health effects of acute carbon monoxide poisoning from exposure to carbon monoxide, such as lethargy, headaches, concentration problems, amnesia, psychosis, Parkinson’s disease, memory impairment, and personality alterations.
(Cal. Health & Safety Code § 13261.)

Q 2.  Is there a new California law dealing with the issue of carbon monoxide poisoning?
A  Yes.  The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 (Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 13260 et seq.) was signed into law this year.  It requires carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in every “dwelling unit intended for human occupancy.”  

Q 3.  What is a carbon monoxide detector?
A
  It is a relatively inexpensive device similar to a smoke detector that signals detection of carbon monoxide in the air.  Under the law, a carbon monoxide device is “designed to detect carbon monoxide and produce a distinct audible alarm.”  It can be battery powered, a plug-in device with battery backup, or a device installed as recommended by Standard 720 of the National Fire Protection Association that is either wired into the alternating current power line of the dwelling unit with a secondary battery backup or connected to a system via a panel.
If the carbon monoxide device is combined with a smoke detector, it must emit an alarm or voice warning in a manner that clearly differentiates between a carbon monoxide alarm warning and a smoke detector warning.
The carbon monoxide device must have been tested and certified pursuant to the requirements of the American National standards Institute (ANSI) and Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) as set forth in either ANSI/UL 2034 or ANSI/UL 2075, or successor standards, by a nationally recognized testing laboratory listed in the directory of approved testing laboratories established by the Building Materials Listing Program of the Fire Engineering Division of the Office of the State Fire Marshal of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
(Cal. Health & Safety Code § 13262.)

Q 4.  How does a homeowner comply with this law?
A
  Every owner of a “dwelling unit intended for human occupancy” must install an approved carbon monoxide device in each existing dwelling unit having a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage.
The applicable time periods are as follows:

(1) For all existing single-family dwelling units on or before July 1, 2011.

(2) For all other existing dwelling units on or before Jan. 1, 2013.

(Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17926(a).)


Q 5. 
How many devices and where do I place them in the home?
A
  This new law requires the owner “to install the devices in a manner consistent with building standards applicable to new construction for the relevant type of occupancy or with the manufacturer’s instructions, if it is technically feasible to do so” (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17926(b)).
The following language comes packaged with carbon monoxide (CO) detectors:

For minimum security, a CO Alarm should be centrally located outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.  The Alarm should be located at least 6 inches (152mm) from all exterior walls and at least 3 feet (0.9 meters) from supply or return vents.

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About sfpeninsulaestates
Raleigh Real Estate - We Serve Clients, not just Locations www.sfpeninsulaestates.com John and Svetlana (Lana) Raleigh: the Raleigh Real Estate Team

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