Fire Alarm with Carbon Monoxide Detector

Carbon Monoxide Detector

The California legislation enacted Senate Bill 183 to regulate the presence of Carbon Monoxide detectors in residential units. The bill has two parts to it.

The first part of the new law involves that as of July 1, 2011, Transfer Disclosure Statements (TD forms) include a line item regarding the presence or absence of a Carbon Monoxide detector in the same manner as Smoke Detectors, for all residential units that are sold. This applies to just about all types of occupancies from single family owner-occupied and rentals, to multi-family housing. If the property is being sold, it must now include a CO Detector if the dwelling has gas appliances, fireplaces, and/or attached garages as described below.  

The second part of the law enacts the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 which requires that all residential properties, not just those being sold, be equipped with a Carbon Monoxide detector when the property has a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, and/or an attached garage.  All single-family homes in structures with 1-4 units (owner or tenant occupied) must be equipped with a detector on or before July 1, 2011. 

All other multi-family residential units must be equipped with a detector on or before January 1, 2013, not just those being sold.

For rentals, the Carbon Monoxide detector must be operable at the time the tenant takes possession. A tenant is responsible for notifying the owner or owner’s agent if the tenant becomes aware of an inoperable or deficient carbon monoxide detector within his or her unit. The owner or owner’s agent must correct any reported deficiencies in the carbon monoxide detector and will not be in violation of this section for a deficient or inoperable carbon monoxide detector when he or she has not received notice of the deficiency or inoperability.

The bottom line is that ALL SINGLE FAMILY residential dwelling units as of July 1, 2011 must have a CO detector, even those that are not being sold. All other dwelling units (multi-family, dormitories, hotels, motels, etc) must have CO detectors installed by January 1, 2013.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Choices

Plug-in carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are easy to use, and you don’t need to worry about replacing batteries. One example is the First Alert CO615.This model has the highest accuracy ratings, and owners appreciate this detector’s clear … backlit display, which monitors current and peak CO levels. Another plus is that you can test or silence its alarm using a TV remote control within a 12-foot range. The First Alert CO615 also comes with two AA batteries that serve as a safety backup in the event of a power outage. Manufacturers say this CO detector should be replaced after the expiration of its five-year warranty.

Another type of CO sensor is battery operated only with the ability to place it anywhere. One of the best products of this kind is the Kidde KN-COPP-B. You have to be mindful of replacing the batteries, but this type of CO detector has one big advantage — you can place it wherever you need it, rather than being stuck with wherever your wall outlets are. Repeated reviews … praise this Kidde carbon monoxide detector’s digital display, which provides clear and constant CO readings. It also has a low-battery alert and versatile installation — it can even be set to operate on your kitchen table. A green LED light on the unit, which changes to red during alerts, glows to indicate it’s accurately working. The manufacturer recommends battery replacement every two years after the expiration of its five-year warranty.

A better way to go is a CO and smoke detector combo that have the ability to connect multiple detectors — that’s helpful if you have a large home and worry that you may not hear an alarm sounding in a distant part of your … home. For example you may want to hear when your kids are in danger. An example of this system is Kidde KN-COSM-B. Each unit is battery-powered, and they connect to each other by radio frequency. Experts say sensitivity is good with both CO and with smoke (this unit has a photoelectric fire sensor, which indicates the presence of a smoldering fire). One downside: This detector lacks a digital display, so you can’t be sure of the exact level of carbon monoxide present. However, many owners feel its programmable voice alert, which loudly announces the location of the danger, easily makes up for this. The unit’s manufacturer warranty is for five years, while its expected sensor life is six years.

The best system is when the CO and smoke detector combo is installed into a system where the detectors are wired together. In this case the detectors always connected to power. They have battery backup in case of a power outage. They are connected together so when one detects smoke the others start alerting the occupants as well. You do not have the problem of not being able to hear the alert. A CO and smoke alarm combo placed into one of these systems provides the best protection. Such a system has already been the law for years. Adding the CO monitoring to it requires minimal cost.

Expect to see this new inspection item in your home inspection report. Home inspectors will be required to report on the presence or absence of a working Carbon Monoxide detector just like they report on Smoke Detectors, and water heater strapping.

Home Buyers and Sellers will also see this new requirement on Transfer Disclosure Statements. In addition to Smoke Alarms and strapped water heaters, sellers will be required to disclose the presence or absence of a working Carbon Monoxide detector starting July 1, 2011.

Details of SB 183

This bill requires that Transfer Disclosure Statements (TDS Forms) include line items for Carbon Monoxide Detectors just like Smoke Detectors. This applies to homes intended for human occupancy that have a fossil fuel (gas or wood) burning appliance, fireplace, and/or an attached garage.

The remedy for failure to install a device is actual damages not to exceed $100, exclusive of any court costs and attorney’s fees. The Bill revises the statutory Real Estate Transfer Disclosure Statement to require the seller of a one-to-four residential property or manufactured home to make certain disclosures regarding carbon monoxide devices, smoke detectors, and water heaters, and requires the owner of a rental dwelling unit to maintain carbon monoxide devices in the unit (as of January 1, 2013).

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010

Details: As of July 1, 2011, Carbon Monoxide detectors will be REQUIRED in all houses (1 – 4 units) if they have any of the following:

  • Any gas appliances such as a gas stove, gas furnace, gas fireplace, gas water heater, etc.
  • A fireplace (even if it only burns wood, pellets, or any other material). 
  • An attached garage (even if there are no gas appliances in the house!). Cars continue to emit CO even after they are shut off.
  • ANY rental dwelling that meets the criteria listed above. Yes this means that if you own a house, condo, or townhouse that you rent to another human being, you are REQUIRED to install Carbon Monoxide detectors.
  • As of January 1, 2013, ALL multi-family dwellings including multi-family dwellings that meet the criteria listed above will be required to have Carbon Monoxide detectors. Even those that are not being sold will be required to have them just like smoke detectors.

Be sure the home you are buying or selling is safe. A qualified home inspector will provide the information you need to feel confident about your home buying decision. Don’t compromise when choosing a home inspector. Be sure to ask if they will check for this.

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