New Law Will Require Carbon Monoxide Detectors in All Homes

 Tom Larson  |    April 07, 2010

On March 10, 2010, Gov. Doyle signed into law Senate Bill 415, legislation that requires all homes to have carbon monoxide detectors beginning on February 1, 2011.

Carbon monoxide is a dangerous, poisonous gas which cannot be detected by human senses. Dubbed the “silent killer,” carbon monoxide claims more than 2,000 lives each year and sends more than 40,000 people to the emergency room in the U.S. alone. At high concentrations, carbon monoxide can be fatal within minutes. Twenty-three other states already have laws requiring carbon monoxide alarms in residential properties.

This new law will expand the current carbon monoxide detector requirements to all one- and two-family homes and parallels requirements for smoke alarms for ease of installation. Specifically, this new law will require carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in the basement of the dwelling and on each floor level except the attic or storage area of both newly constructed and existing homes. For new construction, the alarms must be hard-wired in order to be current with national model safety codes. For existing homes, the alarms can be battery operated and can be multipurpose (smoke and carbon monoxide). Dwellings with no attached garages, no fireplaces and no fuel-burning appliances are exempted from this requirement.

Similar to the smoke alarm law, the new carbon monoxide detector law does not have a fine or penalty associated with non-compliance. However, all home inspections will be required to check for carbon monoxide alarms.

Last session, the legislature passed and Gov. Doyle signed into law a measure requiring carbon monoxide detectors in all new and existing multifamily units. Beginning April 1, 2010, all existing multifamily units are required to have carbon monoxide detectors. Plug-in alarms are acceptable to comply with this new law in existing multifamily units.

Tom Larson is Director of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs for the WRA.

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