Carbon Monoxide Alarms

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Carbon Monoxide Alarms Save Lives

Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that can be harmful or fatal after prolonged or high level exposures. This gas is present in nearly every home and building in the world. If you are exposed to high levels over time or a extreme levels for even just short while, you can be in danger. 

If you would like a FREE home consultation about Carbon Monoxide Alarms call the Bend Fire Department at 541-322-6309 to schedule your visit. 
What is carbon monoxide?
It is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas, that is a byproduct of incomplete combustion of fuels such as gasoline, wood, charcoal,  coal, natural gas, propane, oil, kerosene and methane
 Carbon Monoxide Safety
© Cheshire Fire & Rescue
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. Especially at risk are:
  • Unborn babies
  • Infants
  • Older adults
  • People who smoke
  • People with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems
Where does carbon monoxide come from:
  • Heaters, fireplaces, furnaces, appliances and cooking sources using coal, wood, petroleum products, and other fuels
  • Products and equipment powered by an internal combustion engine, such as portable generators, cars, lawn mowers, and power washers
  • Car exhaust in an attached garage may leak carbon monoxide into the house even with the main garage door open, putting you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Operating equipment inside an attached garage increases the risk of introducing of carbon monoxide into a living space
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

What are symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?
Initial symptoms are similar to the flu, but without the fever:
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Skin may turn bright red
Severe symptoms include:
  • Mental confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of muscular coordination
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Death
What is a carbon monoxide alarm?
  • Detects carbon monoxide
  • Produces a distinctive audible alert when carbon monoxide is detected
  • Complies with ANSI/UL 2034 or 2075 or other nationally recognized testing laboratory
  • May be a separate stand alone unit or part of detection and alarm system
What types of carbon monoxide alarms are available?
  • Hardwired Carbon monoxide alarm: Activated by carbon monoxide
  • Battery operated Carbon monoxide alarm: Activated by carbon monoxide
  • Plug in Carbon monoxide alarm: Activated by carbon monoxide
  • Combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms: Activated by smoke or carbon monoxide

When the laws were implemented and changed?
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 become effective 
  • 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 – Oregon Building Codes Division (BCD) adopts rules such that carbon monoxide alarms are required for new residential structures submitted for plan review as of April 1, 2011. Also effective on this date, carbon monoxide alarms are required in residential structures that undergo reconstruction, alteration or repair for which a building permit is required. Affected “residential structures” are those identified in section 310 of the Oregon Structural Specialty Code (OSSC) as a residential Group R occupancy. Examples of these uses may be characterized as; hotels, motels, apartments, dormitories, fraternities, sororities, one- and two-family dwellings, townhouses and residential care/assisted living facilities. In addition, SR-3 and SR-4 occupancies as defined in OSSC Appendix SR are included as they are principally built to ‘residential’ standards. 

May I modify my hard-wired smoke alarm system for a combination carbon monoxide and smoke alarm?

  • You may replace a hardwired smoke alarm for a hardwired battery back-up smoke/carbon monoxide combination alarm
  • 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?
Install CO alarms on each level of your home with bedrooms (sleeping areas).

  • A CO alarm must be located within each bedroom or within 15 feet outside of each bedroom door. Bedrooms on separate floors in a structure containing two or more stories require separate CO alarms.
  • All CO alarms must be installed in accordance with the manufacturer's recommended instructions. (OAR 837-047-0130)
  • Please note: this is required when selling or renting a home.
Do current rules require carbon monoxide alarm in all bedrooms?
  • No, the law requires a carbon monoxide alarm on each level of your home with sleeping areas or within 15 feet of each sleeping area; however, ductwork from sources often goes directly to bedrooms, bypassing hallways outside of sleeping areas (OAR 837-047-0130)
  • More CO alarms can be installed as you feel the need. We recommend at least one on every floor of your home, regardless of sleeping areas

I understand the rules provide minimum requirements. What other recommendations are there for placement of carbon monoxide alarms? BEST PRACTICES.

  • Securely fasten plug-in devices to the wall.
  • Install a CO alarm in every room containing a carbon monoxide source, except a garage intended for parking vehicles.
  •  Install a carbon monoxide alarm system in multi-family dwellings in any enclosed common area within the building if the common area is connected to a carbon monoxide source located in or attached to the structure and a dwelling unit

 Where should carbon monoxide alarms NOT be installed?

  • Garages and kitchens
  • Extremely dusty, dirty, humid, or greasy areas
  • In direct sunlight or areas prone to temperature extremes. These include unconditioned crawl spaces such as ventilated attics, basement, and crawl spaces, unfinished attics, insulated 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)

How often do I replace my carbon monoxide alarm?

  • Most CO alarms have a 5-7 year limited warranty, depending on the manufacture
  • Most brands of CO alarms will chirp when they are past their date of expiration
  • Manufacturers recommend replacing alarms once past that date of production (NFPA 72)
How do I keep my carbon monoxide alarm working?
  • Test alarms monthly
  • Use canned air or vacuum alarms regularly to remove dust and cobwebs
  • Never disconnect or remove alarm batteries for other use. For battery operated, replace the alarms’ battery(s) at least once per year
  • Carbon monoxide alarms and carbon monoxide/smoke combination alarms are NOT required to have a 10-year battery (OAR 837-047-0150)
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

Carbon Monoxide Information for Realtors, Home Sellers, and Home Buyers

  • Are carbon monoxide (CO) alarms required when selling a home?
    If you have a CO source, CO alarms are required to sell a home. Effective April 1, 2011, sellers of one- and two-family dwellings, manufactured dwellings, or multifamily housing containing a CO source must have one or more properly functioning CO alarms before conveying fee title or transferring possession of a dwelling. (OAR 837-047-0120) Homes built during or after 2011 require a CO alarm regardless of any CO source.
  • Are carbon monoxide alarms required in new home construction or remodels?
    Yes. The CO alarm requirements for new construction, reconstruction, alteration and repair are applicable regardless of the presence of a CO source. (OSSC, Carbon Monoxide Alarms 908.7)
  • Can I have battery-operated CO alarms in new construction?
    Yes. Section R315.4.1 of the 2011 ORSC states “Single station CO alarms shall be battery operated, or many receive their primary power from the building wiring system.” If a homeowner chooses to install the electrical plug-in type, those CO alarms will need to have a battery back-up feature.

Carbon Monoxide Information for Property Management, Landlords, and Tenants

  • Are carbon monoxide (CO) alarms required in rental dwelling units? 
    If you have a CO source, CO alarms are required in rental dwelling units. Effective April 1, 2011, landlords must provide properly functioning CO alarms for all rental dwelling units with or within a structure containing a CO source. (OAR 837-047-0120, 0160) The landlord shall provide a new tenant with alarm testing instructions. If a CO alarm is battery-operated or has a battery-operated backup system, the landlord shall supply working batteries for the alarm at the beginning of a new tenancy.
  • What are my obligations as a tenant?
    Test at least once every six months and replace batteries as needed in any CO alarm provided by the landlord and notify the landlord in writing of any operating deficiencies. (OAR 837-047-0160) A tenant may not remove or tamper with a CO alarm. Tamper includes: Deliberately or negligently destroy, deface, damage, impair or remove any part of the premises or knowingly permit any person to do so. (OAR 837-047-0170)
  • As a tenant, can I be charged a fee for tampering with my CO alarm? 
    Yes. A landlord may charge a tenant a fee for removal or tampering with a properly functioning CO alarm. (ORS 90.302)
  • What do I do if I am renting and have a CO source, and my landlord has not provided a working CO alarm? 
    A tenant must notify the landlord in writing of any operating deficiencies. (837-047-0160)
    If the landlord receives written notice from the tenant of a deficiency in a CO alarm, other than dead batteries, the landlord shall repair or replace the alarm. (ORS 90.317)
Where do I find more sources of information?
For Landlords:
Metro Multifamily Housing Association
921 SW Washington Suite 772
Portland, OR 97205

For Homebuilders:
Oregon Home Builders Association
375 Taylor Street NE Salem, OR 97301


Building Codes Division
P.O. Box 14470
Salem, OR 97309-0404

The local building department you are working with.

For Realtors:
Oregon Association of Realtors 2110
Mission Street SE, Suite 310
Salem, OR 97308

Building Codes Division
P.O. Box 14470
Salem, OR 97309-0404

For Adult Foster Home Program:
Connie Rush - DHS
Seniors and People with Disabilities
500 Summer St. NE E12
Salem, OR 97301-1073

For more information about Carbon Monoxide Alarms, go to the Oregon State Fire Marshals website here.

CPSC The "Invisible" Killer Brochure about CO