New Law: Carbon Monoxide Detectors

I'm a little late on this, but late is always better than never.  It's September, it’s getting colder outside.  I even heard that we’re supposed to have frost this week.  That means soon we’ll be sealing the houses up and firing up the furnace.  It’s the time of year when carbon monoxide leaks are found after heating units sat over the summer.

As of August 1st, a new CO detector law went into effect which requires that every new and existing single family home have a carbon monoxide detector installed within 10 feet of every room used for sleeping.  Multi-family homes and apartment buildings must comply by August 1, 2009.

According to the State Fire Marshall website:

• Every single family dwelling and every multifamily dwelling unit shall be provided with a minimum of one approved and fully operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within ten (10) feet of each room lawfully used for sleeping purposes.

• If bedrooms are located on separate floors additional carbon monoxide alarms would be necessary within ten feet of these areas.

• If bedrooms are located in separate areas (on the same level), additional carbon monoxide alarms would be necessary within ten (10) feet of these areas.

• In lieu of installing multiple CO alarms in the hallway, a separate CO could be installed inside each sleeping room

• It is important that these devices be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s installations instructions and not be placed in ‘dead’ air pockets such as corners of rooms, at the junction of walls and ceilings or within thirty-six (36) inches of ventilation ducts.

• Carbon monoxide alarms shall be installed at the height specified in the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
• Carbon monoxide alarms have an effective life-span of 5-7 years. Many manufacturers recommend these devices be replaced at six (6) year intervals.

If you need further information on Minnesota's new carbon monoxide detector law, visit the Minnesota Fire Marshall Website at

If you’re a home seller and you don’t have carbon monoxide detectors in your home, you must purchase and install them as required.  Otherwise, an inspector may rate your home as hazardous for not being up to current code.  Besides, you should have a CO detector anyway as a safety precaution.  They’re just as important as having a smoke detector.

Carbon monoxide has no odor.  The initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to many illnesses: nausea, headache, fatigue.  Most people who experience think they’re just coming down with an illness.  The vague symptoms make the CO poisoning particularly dangerous, as someone exposed to the gases may go to bed to “sleep it off” instead of seeking help, which can lead to tragic consequences.

Protect yourself and your loved ones by purchasing a CO detector with a loud enough alarm to wake people in the night.  A good one will cost less than $50, a small price to pay for safety and peace of mind.

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