Install Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarms

Carbon monoxide and smoke alarms are now common products that the building code requires in all new homes. These alarms wake occupants if the concentration of CO or smoke becomes dangerous. Building owners can buy combination alarms that sound an alarm or talk when they sense either CO or smoke.
Many CO alarms simply have a plug that plugs into a wall outlet.

The best place for a smoke alarm or combination alarm is on the ceiling in the center of a room.
Hard-wired alarms are the best solution for new homes and home for renovations when an electrician is involved. CO alarms last only about 5 years, and smoke alarms last up to 10 years. Therefore combination alarms aren’t always the best choice because the CO sensor dies before the smoke sensor.

Don’t install alarms within 15 feet of gas ranges or combustion devices because small amounts of smoke or CO can cause nuisance false alarms.
Install CO alarms, smoke alarms, or else combination CO/smoke alarms in homes with combustion appliances where both smoke alarms and CO alarms are currently absent.
If clients choose to use battery-powered alarms, consider recommending lithium batteries. Lithium batteries are more expensive than standard batteries but will probably last the lifespan of the alarm. If clients use standard batteries, a chirping sound will alert them when the batteries need to be changed.

Educate occupants about the alarms and what to do if the alarm sounds. Discuss the low-battery chirping sound and how to replace the battery. Tell residents that alarms last less than 10 years and that a different sound will alert them when the alarm fails.

Smoke Alarm Standards

Advise building owners to install smoke alarms labeled UL 217 in buildings where they don’t exist or don’t work. Consult Underwrighters Laboratory

Consider the following specific recommendations.

  • Install one smoke alarm on each floor of a home.
  • If mounted on a wall, mount the alarm from 4 to 12 inches from the ceiling.
  • If mounted on a ceiling, mount the alarm at least 6 inches from the nearest wall.
  • If battery powered, prefer long-life lithium batteries.
  • If hard wired, connect the alarm to a circuit that is energized at all times.

CO Alarms Standards

  • Every home should have a CO alarm. CO alarms must comply with these specifications.
  • Have a label with a UL 2034 listing.
  • If hard wired, connect to a circuit that is energized at all times by plugging in to an electrical receptacle.
  • If battery powered, prefer long-life lithium batteries.
  • Have a digital display of the CO measurement.
  • Have a sensor-life alarm.

Don’t install CO alarms in these situations.

  • In a room that may get too hot or cold for alarm to function properly.
  • Within 5 feet of a combustion appliance, vent, or chimney.
  • Within 5 feet of a storage area for vapor-producing chemicals.
  • Within 12 inches of exterior doors and windows
  • Within 12 inches of exterior doors and windows
  • Within 12 inches of exterior doors and windows
  • With an electrical connection to a switched circuit.
  • With a connection to a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).

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