The 2012 life-safety code requires the installation of carbon monoxide alarm or detection systems in new single-family and multifamily residences with attached garages* or which contain permanently installed fuel burning appliances. Though not required for existing residential units, some state and local governments have implemented requirements for retrofit.  In these jurisdictions, Property Condition Assessments of residential units will likely reflect related costs as dictated by legal requirements. For example, in California, the installation of carbon monoxide detection devices is already required in existing single family homes, and will be required in existing multifamily properties by January 1, 2013, the installation of carbon monoxide devices is likely to be included in the consultant’s estimate of immediate needs. 

When required, the Life Safety code requires the installation of CO devices:

  • Outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping rooms, and
  • On every occupiable level of a dwelling unit

Carbon monoxide alarms or carbon monoxide detectors shall be installed:

  • In accordance with the manufacturer’s published instructions;
  • On the ceilings of rooms containing permanently installed fuel-burning appliances;
  • Centrally located within occupiable spaces served by the first supply air register from a permanently installed, fuel burning HVAC system; and
  • Centrally located within occupiable spaces adjacent to a communicating attached garage.

There are two types of devices; detectors and alarms.

  • A carbon monoxide alarm is a standalone device with a built-in battery and alarm.
  • A carbon monoxide detector is connected to a fire alarm system and receives power from the fire alarm panel.

If you have not already installed carbon monoxide detectors in existing residential units, check with your local building department to determine requirements and approved equipment in your area.