Provided by the Oregon State Fire Marshall, updated June 2010. View this information as a printable PDF. Find other resources for home buyers and sellers.
What is carbon monoxide?
It is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels, such as gasoline, wood, charcoal, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, kerosene and methane burn incompletely
Where does carbon monoxide come from?
Heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances and cooking sources using coal, wood, heating oil (like Romeo’s Fuel) petroleum products, and other fuels producing carbon monoxide
Products and equipment powered by an internal combustion engine, such as portable generators, cars, lawn mowers, and power washers produce carbon monoxide
Operating equipment inside an attached garage increases the risk of introduction of carbon monoxide into a living space
What are the risk factors of carbon monoxide?
Carbon monoxide fumes are dangerous and may be deadly. Especially at risk are:
People who smoke
People with chronic heart disease, anemia or respiratory problems
Why should my home have carbon monoxide alarms?
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 2,100 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year in the United States
There are more than 10,000 injuries annually from carbon monoxide
Fuel burning home heating and cooking equipment are sources of carbon monoxide
Car exhaust in an attached garage may leak carbon monoxide into the house even with the main garage door open
Why is carbon monoxide harmful?
It displaces oxygen in the blood and deprives the heart, brain, and other vital organs of oxygen
The molecules attach to your red blood cells more easily than oxygen molecules, depriving oxygen from getting into the body. This may damage tissues and result in death
What are symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Initial symptoms are similar to the flu but without the fever:
Shortness of breath
Skin may turn bright red
Severe symptoms include:
Loss of muscular coordination
Loss of consciousness
Who does what, when?
Oregon law requires carbon monoxide alarms to be installed following specific House Bill 3450 implementation dates:
JULY 1, 2010 – Office of State Fire Marshal (OSFM) Administrative Rules effective date
JULY 1, 2010 – For all new rental agreements, landlords must provide properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms for rental dwelling units with, or within a structure containing, a carbon monoxide source
APRIL 1, 2011 – Landlords must provide properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms for all rental dwelling units with, or within a structure containing a carbon monoxide source
APRIL 1, 2011 – Home sellers of one-and two family dwellings, manufactured dwellings, or multifamily housing units containing a carbon monoxide source must have one or more properly functioning carbon monoxide alarms before conveying fee title or transferring possession of a dwelling
APRIL 1, 2011 – Carbon monoxide alarms are required in new construction or a structure that undergoes reconstruction, alteration or repair for which a building permit is required, and is identified in the structural specialty code as a residential Group R structure.(for new construction and reconstruction go to Oregon Buildings Codes http://www.cbs.state.or.us/bcd/committees/11orsc.html)
What is a carbon monoxide alarm?
Detects carbon monoxide
Produces a distinctive audible alert when carbon monoxide is detected
Must comply with ANSI/UL 2034 or 2075 or other nationally recognized testing laboratory
May be a separate stand alone unit or part of a detection and alarm system
What types of carbon monoxide alarms are available?
1. Carbon monoxide only alarms: Activated by carbon monoxide
May be battery-operated, plug-in, or hard-wired
Battery back-up is recommended for plug-in and hardwired alarms
2. Combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms: Activated by smoke or carbon monoxide
Combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms must comply with ANSI/UL 217 and ANSI/UL 2034
Combination smoke/carbon monoxide detectors must comply with ANSI/UL 268 and ANSI/UL 2075
3. Ionization smoke/carbon monoxide alarms: Activated by smoke or carbon monoxide These alarms are labeled on either the front or back of the alarm with:
‘Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm’
A lower case letter ‘i’ for ionization and the word ‘ionization’
The phrase ‘contains radioactive material’
NOTE: These alarms do not require a 10-year battery
4. Photoelectric smoke/carbon monoxide alarm: Activated by smoke or carbon monoxide. These alarms are labeled on either the front or back of the alarm with:
‘smoke and carbon monoxide alarm’
a capital letter ‘P’ for photoelectric and the word ‘photoelectric’
5. Photoelectric smoke/carbon monoxide with voice alarm: Activated by smoke or carbon monoxide. An audible voice tone speaks the type and location of danger in your home, when programmed. These alarms are labeled on either the front or back of the alarm with:
A capital letter ‘P’ and the word ‘photoelectric’
‘Smoke and carbon monoxide alarm’
6. Explosive gas & carbon monoxide alarm: Activated by carbon monoxide, propane or natural/methane gas. These alarms are labeled on either the front or back of the alarm with:
‘Explosive gas and carbon monoxide alarm’ on the front of the alarm
7. Plug-In Alarms: Plug-in alarms are simple to use and provide dependable protection for your family. The installation of this type of CO gas detector is as simple as plugging it into a standard electrical socket in your home. This plug-in CO alarm has a battery backup that ensures CO protection even if your house loses power.
Detects both carbon monoxide and explosive gases.
Has a backlit digital display for easy reading.
Visit kellypropane.com if you’re curious about propane cylinders for portable propane appliances.
What is the difference between ionized and photoelectric?
Ionization smoke detectors feature a radioactive source within a dual detection chamber. Ionization alarms sense an unseen change in the electrical conductivity
Ionization detectors sense smoke invisible to the human eye
Photoelectric detectors respond to visible by-products of combustion – When enough visible combustibles are present, the detector sounds an alarm
May I modify my hard-wired smoke alarm system for a combination carbon monoxide and smoke alarm?
You may swap a hardwired smoke alarm for a hardwired smoke/carbon monoxide combination unit when replacement combination alarms are from the same manufacturer
Switching from one manufacturer’s unit to another requires a power adapter plug
Manufacturers advise adapter plugs may be changed using wire nuts and may require a qualified electrician
Where do I install carbon monoxide alarms?
On each level of your home with sleeping areas
In each bedroom or within 15 feet outside each sleeping area
Install alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions
Do the current temporary rules require a carbon monoxide alarm in each sleeping area?
No, but it is still a recommended best practice to have them in both the bedroom and within 15 feet outside the bedroom
The law requires a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home with sleeping areas and within 15 feet of each sleeping area. However, ductwork from sources often goes directly to bedrooms, bypassing hallways outside of sleeping areas
Where should carbon monoxide alarms NOT be installed?
Garages and kitchens
Extremely dusty, dirty, humid, or greasy areas
Direct sunlight or areas prone to temperature extremes. These include unconditioned crawl spaces such as ventilated attics, basement, and crawl spaces, unfinished attics, uninsulated or poorly insulated ceilings, and porches
In electrical outlets covered by curtains or other obstructions
In turbulent air such as near ceiling fans, heat vents, air conditioners, fresh air returns, or open windows. Blowing air may prevent carbon monoxide from reaching the sensors
Directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as appliances may emit a trace amount of carbon monoxide only upon start-up
Within 15 feet of heating and cooking appliances, or in or near, very humid areas such as bathrooms
How often do I replace my carbon monoxide alarm?
Most carbon monoxide alarms have a five year limited warranty
Manufacturers recommend replacing alarms five years from date of production
How do I keep my carbon monoxide alarm working?
Test alarms monthly
Vacuum alarms regularly to remove dust and cobwebs
Never disconnect or remove alarm batteries for other use
For battery operated, replace the 9-volt or AA batteries at least once per year
Carbon monoxide alarms are not required to have a 10-year battery
Carbon monoxide/smoke combination alarms are not required to have a 10-year battery
What should I do when the carbon monoxide alarm sounds?
Don’t ignore the alarm! It is intended to warn household members before they experience symptoms
Silence the alarm
Move everyone outside to fresh air and call for help from a fresh air location:
If anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, call 9-1-1
If no one has symptoms, ventilate the building and contact a qualified service technician
Have all home equipment powered by fuels such as gas, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, or methane inspected by a qualified technician
Have fuel-burning heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in
For more information on Oregon’s carbon monoxide law, visit: http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/SFM/CommEd_CO_Program.shtml or call 503-934-8228
CARBON MONOXIDE in Oregon Statutes at http://www.oregon.gov/OSP/SFM/docs/Codes/COStatutes.pdf