Is my house poisoning my family? – Article by

Article from Home Owner Q & A forum and more!

The life threatening consequnces of excesive carbon monoxide exposure has been widely documented and a nuber of detection devises have flooded the market in the past decade. Although the popularity of carbon monoxide sensors is growing, it has been estimated that less than 20% of homes in the U.S. are are equipted with the proper sensors. Ironicaly, most homes that are equipted to sensor these toxic gasses, are newer built homes and are less likely to have insuficient or improper gas venting which is the main cause of the problem.


So getting a Carbon Monoxide sensor will protect me right?


Well… Kind of. A carbon monoxide sensor is always a good thing to have and it will protect you the same way a smoke detector will, meaning it will only tell you only when your home is no longer safe to be in. Its up to the home owner to check the spots where the proplems usually arise.


So where does it come from? Where should I check?

Carbon Monoxide Chart


To put it simple, carbon monoxide in the home is coming from the burning of natural gas. This happens at the stove, oven, water heater, furnace, fire place, f.p. insert, and the clothes dryer. when any of these are not vented correctly or the venting is blocked it creates a problem. Here’s a few spots to check with some cheap & easy solutions:


1st, check eack of the appliances individualy. Along with a visual inspection in the off mode, the appliance should be observed while operating. check that all flames ignite and burn evenly without yellow tips on the end. If this is not happening consult a licensed plumber.


2nd, be sure that all gas appliances are vented to the outside of the home. This is an absolute must when it comes to water heaters, furnaces, fire places, and clothes dryers. it may be tough to vent a stove top or oven due to placement and cost, but the manufacturers specs should be read to see if the stove/oven requires one. Check that all splices, couplings, and connectors are properly secured to each other as intended, ends should have small metal screws to connect, as well as heat tape to prevent gas leakage. The exhaust vent should be secured to the wall min. 1 strap per section or every 3 feet.


3rd, once all of the appliances have been inspected in thier interior closets its time to go into the attic to make sure the vents are terminating out the roof. This is where most deficiencies are found. Sometimes people end their vent pipes in the attic without continuing them out the roof, This is not okay! If this is found to be true, shut down all applicable systems.


Here’s where you might want to call a pro, but its not too hard to do, so if your daring enough then you’ll want to determine the size and type of piping and go get some of those. Depending on your ceiling/roof structure this next step could get tricky. You want the vent to go as straight up as possible with the least amount of bends, so keep that in mind when you determine a location to terminate out of the roof (do not end vent within 2 feet of the ridge line). Draw a circle the same size as your vent pipe on the roof sheathing, then draw a larger circle outside that one making sure to leave 3″ space arround the pipe size circle. Determine the direct center and drive a nail up through the roof. Go up onto the roof and draw a circle the same size as the large circle in the attic using the nair as your cener point. Using a sawzall with an aggressive blade, cut the circle out of the roof. The size of the vent pipe will determine the size of the roof jack. If you are not sure of your roofing skills you may want to call a licenced roofer. But if you’ve made it this far then I’ll bet your doing the rest so here we go, Using a flat bar, gently coerce the roofing nails around the hole  up out of their spot, without tearing the roofing. Find the roofing lap that is closest to center or a little above center of the hole. Slide the metal edge of roof jack under roofing lap and push it up into place. Lift up the bottom of the roof jack and lay a large bead of roofing tar (Henris makes a great product in a caulking tube). Nail down bottom edges of jack with roofing nails. Nail thru bottom edges of roofing and jack at top of jack. Coat heads of all roofing nails with a spot of tar.


Head back into the attic and attach the new vent pipes you bought. Remember to fully attach pipes to each other as designed as well as using self tapping metal screws and reflective heat tape at all joints. Be sure to strap vent pipes securely to joists and rafters wherever possible.


An often forgotten gas appliance is the clothes dryer. it is very important to vent this outside not only because of gasses but also the moisture content in the discharged air and the lint that accumulates around the lines. The clothes dryer must be hard piped ( no flex duct) and must not be longer than 14 feet in length with no more than 2 bends, and must not have more than 6 feet in vertical rise. If you can not achieve this a auxiliary blower fan may be installed.

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California Law Now Requires Carbon Monoxide Detectors – Click here for a copy of the law

New Carbon Monoxide Alarm Requirements Handout – Click here for your copy of the OCFA requirements. Great little handout for landlords, homeowners and association newsletters.

Carbon monoxide is a gas produced whenever any fuel, such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood, or charcoal, is burned.  A person can’t see or smell carbon monoxide.

The California Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act of 2010 (Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 13260 et seq) is now law requiring carbon monoxide detectors to be installed in every “dwelling unit intended for human occupancy.”

A carbon monoxide detector is a device similar to a smoke detector that signals detection of carbon monoxide in the air.

This carbon monoxide detection device must be:

  • Designed to detect carbon monoxide and produce a distinct audible alarm.  It can be battery powered, a plug-in device with battery backup, or a device either wired into the alternating current power line of the dwelling unit with a secondary battery backup or connected to a system via a panel.
  • If this device is combined with a smoke detector, it must emit an alarm or voice warning in a manner that clearly differentiates between a carbon monoxide alarm warning and a smoke detector warning.

Each owner of a “dwelling unit intended for human occupancy” must:

  • Install an approved carbon monoxide device in each existing dwelling unit having a fossil fuel burning heater or appliance, fireplace, or an attached garage.  The applicable time periods are:  (1) For all existing single-family dwelling units on or before July 1, 2011.  (2) For all other existing dwelling units on or before Jan. 1, 2013.  (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17926(a).)

A carbon monoxide alarm should be:

  • Centrally located outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.  The Alarm should be located at least 6 inches (152mm) from all exterior walls and at least 3 feet (0.9 meters) from supply or return vents.
  • Installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedroom(s) in dwelling units and on every level including basements within which fuel-fired appliances are installed and in dwelling units that have attached garages.

Sellers carbon monoxide disclosure obligations:

  • Would be satisfied when providing a buyer with the Transfer Disclosure Statement or the MHTDS.  If the seller is exempt from giving a TDS, the law doesn’t require any specific disclosures regarding carbon monoxide detector devices.  (California Civil Code §§ 1102.6, 1102.6d.)
  • Homeowners’ Guide to Environmental Hazards also will include information regarding carbon monoxide.

Landlords have special obligations regarding carbon monoxide detectors: 

  • All landlords of dwelling units must install carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Landlords in CA have authority to enter the dwelling unit for purpose of installing, repairing, testing, and maintaining carbon monoxide devices “pursuant to the authority and requirements of Section 1954 of the Civil Code [entry by landlord].”
  • The detection device must be operable at the time that a tenant takes possession.
  • The tenant has responsibility of notifying the owner or owner’s agent if the tenant becomes aware of an inoperable or deficient carbon monoxide device.  However, the landlord is not in violation of this law for a deficient or inoperable carbon monoxide device if he/she has not received notice of the problem from the tenant. (CA Health & Safety Code § 17926.1.)

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