Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Posted on 16. Feb, 2012 by in Law

The Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010, also known as SB 183, is effective as to single-family detached residences on July 1, 2011, and all other residential units on January 1, 2013. It requires that residential property be equipped with a carbon monoxide device when the property has an attached garage or fossil fuel (coal, kerosene, oil, wood, fuel gasses and other petroleum or hydrocarbon products that emit carbon monoxide as a byproduct of combustion) heater or appliance or fireplace. Rules regarding carbon monoxide devices (such as the landlord’s obligation to ensure that the devices are operable at the time the tenant takes possession, the landlord’s right to enter for inspection, and the tenant’s obligation to notify the landlord if the device becomes inoperable) are similar to smoke detector rules.

An open parking garage (as defined in the California Building Code), or an enclosed parking garage ventilated in accordance with the California Mechanical Code, is not deemed to be an “attached garage”.

Residential units that do not (1) contain fuel-burning heaters, appliances or fireplaces or (2) a garage directly attached to the unit, but which are located in a building with fuel-burning appliances or a garage attached to the building, are not required to install carbon monoxide devices when:

  • The unit is located more than one story above or below any story that contains a fuel-burning appliance or an attached garage; and
  • The unit is not connected by duct work or ventilation shafts to any room containing a fuel-burning appliance or to an attached garage; and
  • The building is equipped to a common area carbon monoxide alarm system that includes all enclosed common area spaces.

Carbon monoxide devices (and smoke alarms) must be located outside each sleeping area (in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms) and on every story of the dwelling, including basements and habitable attics. Split levels are considered one story.

There are two different types of carbon monoxide devices. Carbon monoxide alarms are stand alone units that have their own built-in power supply and audible device.  Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to be used with a fire alarm system and receives its power from a fire alarm panel.

Carbon monoxide devices must be hard-wired with battery back-up:

  • When a building permit with a job valuation of more than $1,000 is issued for an addition, repair or alteration, and interior wall or ceiling finishes are disturbed; and
  • For new construction.

If a carbon monoxide device is required, but hard-wiring is not required, either battery operated, or plug-in with battery back-up carbon monoxide devices are allowed. Carbon monoxide devices installed before July 1, 2011 may continue to be utilized, even if they are not an approved carbon monoxide device.

If more than one carbon monoxide device is installed in a unit, all of the devices must be interconnected (so that activation of one alarm will activate all alarms in the unit) if the devices are hard-wired or if a previous method of interconnection exists.

Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners and managers. This article is for general information purposes only. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from a lawyer. If you have questions, please contact your local KTS office. For contact information, please visit

© 2011 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP

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