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Please be advised that the 2019 California Building and Residential Codes effective on January 1, 2020, require smoke & carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in prescribed locations as part of a permitted residential construction project valued at $1,000 or more. This requirement existed previously, but exempted work that was limited to the exteriors of the building (e.g., patio cover additions, and re-roofing projects). This exception no longer applies.

Smoke & carbon monoxide alarms are required to be located as follows and if retrofitted may be battery operated (Code refs: CRC Section R314.3, CRC 314.3.1, CRC R315.2):

  • Smoke & carbon monoxide alarms are required on the ceiling or wall outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms.
  • Smoke alarms in each room used for sleeping purposes.
  • Carbon Monoxide alarms in each room used for sleeping purposes if containing a fuel burning appliance.
  • In each story within a dwelling unit, including basements, but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. In dwellings or dwelling units with split-levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent levels. Smoke & carbon monoxide alarms installed on the upper level shall suffice for the adjacent lower level, provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level.

Carbon Monoxide (CO)

  1. What is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?
  2. Where is CO found?
  3. How Does a CO alarm work?
  4. Does California require that CO detectors/alarms be installed?
  5. The most important step

1.What Is Carbon Monoxide (CO)?  CO is an invisible, odorless, tasteless gas that is lighter than air. CO enters the body during the normal breathing process. Like oxygen, it collects in the lungs and combines with the red blood cells. When inhaled, CO is absorbed into the bloodstream where it interferes with the blood's ability to transport oxygen. CO is denser than oxygen and thus prevents the flow of oxygen to the heart, brain and other vital organs. In short, it can suffocate the body.

2.Where Is CO Found?  Outdoors, carbon monoxide (CO) is all around us, diluted by the air. Indoors it becomes concentrated, and even in small quantities can harm or kill us. Finding the source of this poison is critical so you can prevent exposure to it.CO is usually emitted from familiar, unsuspected sources. CO comes from incomplete combustion; it can be produced from any flame-fueled device including: gas ranges; ovens; clothes dryers; gas or oil furnaces; fireplaces; charcoal grills; space heaters fueled by natural gas, propane, or oils; vehicles; and hot water heaters.The most common source of CO in a home is open flames from ovens and ranges. These appliances should never be used for heating homes. Furnaces and water heaters can be sources of CO if they are not vented properly. If they are vented properly, CO and other hot products of combustion escape to the outside through the vent.

3.How Does a CO Alarm Work?  Concentrations are measured in parts of CO per million parts of oxygen. The alarm warns you to ventilate the area and to search for the poison's source. Some detectors sound alarms intermittently until the air level is safe. There are plug in and battery run models, priced from $40 to $80. Consult the public library for published consumer reviews.

4.Does California law require that CO alarms be installed?  In 2010, California Senate Bill 183 was signed into law which requires the installation of Carbon Monoxide alarms in rental units, and dwellings that are being transferred (sold) by January 1, 2011. It also requires that Carbon Monoxide detectors are installed in ALL homes by January 1st, 2013.

5.The most important step in avoiding CO problems is prevention. Customers should do all they can to avoid creating a situation where CO poisoning could occur.Remember prevention first, then detection. Make sure that your home appliances and equipment are installed, maintained and used properly and safely. That includes having an annual inspection of your heating equipment and venting by a qualified technician. Between inspections, you can do a visual inspection to look for signs of equipment problems, such as soot or water collecting near a burner or vent.

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