State Requirements for Carbon Monoxide Detectors

CO detectors are easy to install, relatively inexpensive and proven to save lives. What are the carbon monoxide detector laws in your state and what can you do to safeguard yourself and your family?

State Requirements for Carbon Monoxide Detectors

An NBC News investigation found that 13 public housing residents have died of carbon monoxide poisoning since 2003. Carbon monoxide detectors are not currently required in public housing. The number of deaths may be higher because the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) does not keep an official tally of carbon monoxide deaths.

Since the report came out, HUD has agreed to provide $5 million in funding for carbon monoxide detectors in public housing. Fearing delays that could put more lives at risk, legislators led by California Senator Kamala Harris, recently unveiled a bill that would make carbon monoxide detectors mandatory in federally subsidized public housing. 

CO detectors are easy to install, relatively inexpensive and proven to save lives. What are the carbon monoxide detector laws in your state and what can you do to safeguard yourself and your family?

What is Carbon Monoxide and Why is it Dangerous?

Carbon monoxide is known as a silent killer because it’s a deadly colorless, tasteless and odorless gas. According to OSHA, “CO is a common industrial hazard resulting from the incomplete burning of material containing carbon such as natural gas, gasoline, kerosene, oil, propane, coal, or wood.”

Common source of CO around the home are:

  • Gas space heaters
  • Furnaces and chimneys
  • Back-drafting
  • Gas stoves
  • Generators and other gasoline-powered equipment
  • Automobile exhaust from attached garages

CO emissions can potentially be dangerous in the summer, too. There are claims that a malfunctioning air conditioner can create CO emissions that as of now, are inconclusive. But it’s worth being careful until more studies are conducted.

The American Council on Science and Health explains why carbon monoxide is so dangerous: “Carbon monoxide loves to stick (bind) to iron. This also means that it also loves to bind to hemoglobin, the iron-based protein that is responsible for distributing oxygen throughout the body. The affinity of CO to hemoglobin is so strong that the gas binds 240 times more tightly to than does oxygen.” 

What this means is that carbon monoxide doesn’t just compete with oxygen for free hemoglobin, it actually displaces oxygen – effectively inhibiting your body’s ability to distribute oxygen. That’s why it can kill a person in less than three minutes. 

What are the Symptoms of CO Poisoning?

Nighthawk Carbon Monoxide AlarmSome people don’t experience symptoms before they die or pass from poisoning while they sleep. The most common symptoms to look out for are:

  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness

What are the Most Common Sources of Carbon Monoxide Emissions?

Around the house, heating sources and vehicles are the most common sources of CO. January is the deadliest month as people look to heat their homes during one of the coldest months of the year. Common sources of household CO include:

  • Gas space heaters
  • Furnaces and chimneys
  • Back-drafting
  • Gas stoves
  • Generators and other gasoline-powered equipment
  • Automobile exhaust from attached garages

CO emissions can potentially be dangerous in the summer, too. There are claims that a malfunctioning air conditioner can create CO emissions that as of now, are inconclusive. But it’s worth being careful until more studies are conducted.

10 Steps to Prevent CO Poisoning 

OSHA and the CDC say that CO poisoning can be prevented if you follow these steps:

1) Install battery-powered CO detectors on every floor of your home.

2) Change the batteries every 6 months.

3) Schedule a qualified technician to annually service your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal-burning home devices.

4) Keep air vents and flues free of debris that can block ventilation lines.

5) Never run a generator, or any gasoline-powered engine inside your home, garage or basement, even if the windows and doors are open.

6) Never run a generator, motor vehicle, pressure washer, or any gasoline-powered engine, even if outdoors, if it’s less than 20 feet from an open window, door, or vent. Exhaust can enter into your home.

7) Never use an oil lantern, charcoal grill, hibachi, or portable camping stove inside your home, camper or tent.

8) Use tools and heating appliances powered by electricity or compressed air instead.

9) Never leave your vehicle’s motor running in the garage or any partially enclosed space.

10) If you suspect CO poisoning, call 911 and go outside for fresh air while you wait.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Laws By State

Alabama

Effective October 2012: CO detectors required outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms in all newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories

Alaska

Effective January 2005: CO detectors required in all residential structures with fossil fuel heating appliances, attached garages or enclosed parking

Arizona

Effective January 2013: CO detectors required outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms in all newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories.

Arkansas

Effective January 2012: CO detectors required on each floor of newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings.

California

Effective January 2011: CO detectors required on all single- and multi-family dwellings.

Colorado

Effective January 2011: CO detectors required in new and existing single- and multi-family dwellings.

Connecticut

Effective January 2017: CO detectors required outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms in all newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories.

D.C.

Effective March 2017: CO detectors required in all buildings with residential occupancies.

Florida

Effective July 2008: CO detectors required in new construction of every building that includes a fossil-fuel-burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage.

Georgia

Effective January 2009: CO detectors required outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms in all newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories.

Idaho

Effective January 2011: CO detectors required outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms in all newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories.

Illinois

Effective January 2007: CO detectors required in all existing and newly constructed residential dwellings must have CO alarms within 15 feet of sleeping areas.

Iowa

Effective July 2018: CO detectors required in all newly constructed and existing multi-unit dwellings and single-family rental properties.

Kentucky

Effective June 2011: CO detectors required in newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings, townhomes less than 3 stories, apartment buildings, dormitories, adult/child care facilities and assisted living facilities which contain a fuel-burning-appliance or an attached garage.

Louisiana

Effective January 2011: CO detectors required in all newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories.

Maine

Effective September 2009: CO detectors required in all newly constructed one and two-family dwellings, townhomes not more than three stories and multi-family dwellings. CO alarms are also required in all existing multi-family dwellings, existing single-family dwellings upon sale only, and all rental dwellings.

Maryland

Effective January 2008: CO detectors required in new single- and multi-family dwellings, hotels, motels and dormitories.

Massachusetts

Effective March 2006: CO detectors required in single- and multi-family dwellings, boarding houses, hotels, motels, dorms, apartments, adult and child care facilities. Combination devices with two or more technologies that are incorporated into one unit shall have simulated voice and tone alarm features which clearly distinguishes between two or more events such as carbon monoxide and smoke.

Michigan

Effective January 2010: CO detectors required in all newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories, and existing multi-dwelling units.

Minnesota

Effective August 2009: CO detectors required in newly constructed single family homes and multi-family dwelling units, existing single-family homes, existing multi-family dwellings.

Mississippi

Effective January 2013: CO detectors required in newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories.

Montana

Effective October 2009: CO detectors required in landlord-controlled properties. Disclosure of CO alarm presence or absence is also required when transferring title.

Nebraska

Effective January 2017: CO detectors required in new construction, multi-family dwellings, as well as existing dwellings that undergo renovation, rental properties that have a change in tenancy, and existing multi-family properties that are sold and bought.

New Hampshire

Effective January 2010: CO detectors required in single- and multi-family dwellings built or substantially rehabbed.

New Jersey

Effective April 2003: CO detectors required in single- and two-family homes at point of sale or transfer, all new residential construction, new and existing commercial buildings.

New Mexico

Effective January 2011: CO detectors required in all newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories..

New York

Effective January 2003: CO detectors required in all structures.

North Carolina

Effective January 2010: CO detectors required in all newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories and all rental properties.

North Dakota

Effective January 2011: CO detectors required in newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories.

Ohio

Effective January 2017: CO detectors required in newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories, existing multi-dwelling properties (hotels, motels, care facilities, multi-family housing, all rental dwelling units.

Oklahoma

Effective January 2011: CO detectors required in newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories.

Oregon

Effective April 2011: CO detectors required in newly constructed single and multi-family dwellings and existing single and multi-family dwellings when sold or transferred as well as rentals.

Pennsylvania

Effective June 2015: CO detectors required in all new and existing one- and two-family homes, multi-family dwelling must have CO alarms in the vicinity of bedrooms and the fossil fuel appliance or heater.

Rhode Island

Effective January 2002: CO detectors required in all one-, two-, and three-family dwellings; hotels; dormitories; apartment buildings; and daycares.

South Carolina

Effective July 2013: CO detectors required in all newly constructed dwelling units and occupancies.

South Dakota

Effective January 2012: CO detectors required in newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories.

Tennessee

Effective June 2011: CO detectors required in newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings, townhouses, R-2, R-3 and R-4 occupancies.

Utah

Effective January 2011: CO detectors required in all new and existing dwellings.

Vermont

Effective July 2005: CO detectors required in all newly constructed one- and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories. CO alarms are also required upon initial occupancy or real estate transfer.

Virginia

Effective January 2011: CO detectors required in newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories.

Washington (State)

Effective January 2013: CO detectors required in all dwelling types.

West Virginia

Effective January 2013: CO detectors required in all dwelling types.

Wisconsin

Effective Fanuary 2011: CO detectors required in new multi-family dwellings, existing multi-family dwellings, new and existing one- and two-family dwellings.

Wyoming

Effective January 2011: CO detectors required in newly constructed one and two-family dwellings and townhomes not more than three stories.

What happens if you live in a rental before the state-mandated date requiring CO detectors? Are landlords required by state law to install them?

Landlords are required to install CO detectors if state laws mandate detectors.  If your landlord hasn’t installed one, contact your local housing authority. New York City tenant attorney Samuel E. Goldberg of GLNYLAW.COM says, “The Tenant should call 311 (for New York) and schedule an inspection date for a Housing Preservation Department (HPD) inspector to inspect the tenant’s apartment and issue a violation.” 

Even if the law is recent, many states have worded their carbon monoxide detector laws to include the retrofitting of CO detectors to include dwellings before the law’s effective date. If in doubt, contact your landlord and ask. If there are no CO detector requirements for your area but you would feel more comfortable with one installed, ask your landlord if they would install one. 

If the landlord does not want to fit your home with a detector because they’re not legally obligated, you can buy one yourself or contact the following to ask if they have a free carbon monoxide detector program:

  • Your local fire department may have a free carbon monoxide detector program
  • Select United Way chapters
  • States like New Hampshire have a free CO detector program

Regardless of state law, it’s a good idea to install at least one carbon monoxide detector in your home. There are many affordable models available that can save your life. Install at least one on every floor of your home, including the basement and garage. Place them near bedrooms so you’ll hear their warning should there be a CO leak. Investing a couple of hours of your time to install CO detectors will protect your family against this silent killer and give you peace of mind that’s priceless. 

While different manufacturers recommend various different mounting locations, it’s important to follow their recommendations. We have tips on how to properly install and place CO detectors in your home, here


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