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Carbon Monoxide Detectors Required for ALL Housing

There has been much confusion around the January 1, 2013 state requirement that carbon monoxide (CO) detectors be installed in ALL housing. Below is some Q&A taken from the RHA website to get you headed in the right direction for installation, and ensure compliance.  Note: that this is a website of resources for landlords and tenants but this new law does apply to all housing in Washington State.

Q – By what date are CO detectors required to be installed in rental housing units?

A – January 1, 2013

Q – Are there any exemptions from this new law?

A – NO. There are no exceptions, not even for properties that do not have a “fuel source.”

Q – Where/how should the CO detectors be installed?

A – One per unit is the minimum. For multi-floor units it is also required that one CO detector is installed on every floor. CO detectors should also be installed within 15 feet of bedrooms. If there are two bedrooms at the end of a shared hallway then one detector would suffice provided it is within 15 feet of each bedroom doorway. Follow manufacturer recommendations for positioning the detector on the wall when installing.

Q – What kind of CO detector should I install? A single CO detector, or a combination CO/Smoke detector?

A – For the reason of practical realities, RHA recommends using only single CO detectors that have a battery backup. The reason we do not recommend using a “combination” CO/Smoke detector is simple. If there is a controlled smoke issue in a unit, such as burning food on the stove top, it is very common for someone to simply disable the smoke detector to shut it off.  This can lead to a situation where the combination detection device sits disabled for a period of time and the tenants are also no longer protected from CO poisoning.

Q – What are the penalties if I do not install a CO detector by January 1, 2013?

A – First off, this is the entirely wrong type of question to be asking. Installation of CO detectors is a life-safety issue and should not be taken lightly or avoided for the sake of saving a few dollars. Should you choose to ignore the January 1, 2013 compliance deadline, and subsequently a CO poisoning or death occurs at your property, you will face being held liable and at risk for serious legal penalties.

Q – Where can I buy CO detectors?

A – Any local home improvement or hardware store, such as a Home Depot or Lowes, offers a variety of CO detectors. Costs have come down on units to as low as $15 each.