For BuyersFor HomeownersFor SellersReal Estate March 27, 2012

Sellers, Do you Have Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Your Home? It’s the Law In WA State


Last year I heard that a college friend of mine had died in his home from carbon monoxide poisoning. A few years back, a Realtor walked into a home to preview it and found the sellers dead in their bed, again from carbon monoxide poisoning.  Both situations were upsetting and shocking to me.  It was sad to hear of an old friend’s untimely loss.  I can only imagine the horror of the real estate agent who found those unfortunate sellers.

These situations are so sad and unnecessary.  They did not have to happen.

Here in Washington, the State is doing something about this. The State  has passed a new law which goes into affect on April 1, 2012 requiring carbon monoxide detectors in specific places in homes as a condition of sale.  Below is wording from the specific law that will affect sellers and buyers when a real estate sale is transacted.

Even if you are not selling your home, it’s a smart idea to install the same carbon monoxide detectors.  It’s a pretty inexpensive way to help eliminate an untimely death, which could be yours!




By Northwest Multiple Listing Service

This bulletin summarizes new “point of sale” requirements related to the installation of carbon monoxide alarms:

When is a seller required to install a carbon monoxide alarm?

Effective April 1, 2012, RCW 19.27.530 requires the seller of any owner-occupied single-family residence to equip the residence with carbon monoxide alarms in accordance with the state building code before a buyer or any other person may legally occupy the residence following the sale. 1 This requirement applies to all single family residences, including single family homes, condominiums, and manufactured/mobile homes.

The building code (WAC 51-51-0315) requires that an alarm be installed: (1) outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of each bedroom; (2) on each level of the dwelling; and (3) in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. The building code also requires that single station carbon monoxide alarms comply with UL 2034. 2 There are no exceptions for properties that do not have fuel-fired appliances or an attached garage. The alarms may be battery operated and can be purchased for as little as $25 from a variety of sources.

The building code also requires that single station carbon monoxide alarms comply with UL 2034. There are no exceptions for properties that do not have fuel-fired appliances or an attached garage. The alarms may be battery operated and can be purchased for as little as $25 from a variety of sources.

Do you have more questions about carbon monoxide poisoning or what to look for in a detector?

The UL  site has more detailed information regarding carbon monoxide detectors. It also makes a lot of sense to check for these things in your home to help prevent any possible leaks:

  • How can I tell if there is a risk of CO poisoning in my home?

    Have your fuel-burning appliances inspected by a qualified technician at least once a year. A qualified technician should have practical knowledge of the operation, installation and proper ventilation of fossil-fuel-burning devices; carry the applicable insurance; be bonded; and be licensed to perform heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) work in your area.

    Be alert to these danger signs that indicate a potential CO problem:

    • Streaks of carbon or soot around the service door of your fuel-burning appliances
    • The absence of a draft in your chimney (indicating blockage)
    • Excessive rusting on flue pipes or appliance jackets
    • Moisture collecting on windows and walls of furnace rooms
    • Fallen soot from the fireplace
    • Small amounts of water leaking from the base of the chimney, vent or flue pipe
    • Damaged or discolored bricks atop the chimney
    • Rust on the portion of the vent pipe visible from outside your home

    Also, recognize that CO poisoning may be the cause when family members suffer from flu-like symptoms that do not disappear but improve when they leave home for extended periods of time.

For HomeownersHome maintenance tipsReal Estate January 25, 2011

Don't Let Carbon Monoxide Kill You

A friend of mine from college just died.  He died from a gas leak in his home.  Apparently some gas had escaped which killed him and sickened others.   He was the only one who didn’t make it.  This was a sad and needless death.

This was not an isolated incident.  I wish it were.

When I told the story about my friend’s death to an acquaintance, she relayed a story about a family who is now brain damaged from exposure to carbon monoxide in their home.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 1,500 Americans die each year from accidental exposure to CO, and there are more than 10,000 injuries each year.

This is serious stuff.

If you do one maintenance item for your home this year, have your furnace inspected.

If you buy one thing for your home, make it a carbon monoxide detector.   Hardware stores are a good place to find the detectors.

Some important tips for buying and installing a detector:

Detecting CO

  • When buying a CO detector, check for the UL approved label.
  • Digital display models show the CO level, rather than simply beeping.
  • Install CO detectors in a central area on every floor and near sleeping areas.
  • Detectors should be placed at least five feet above the ground, as CO rises.
  • Hard-wired and plug-in models won’t work during a power outage.
  • Like smoke detectors, batteries need to be replaced each year.
  • CO detectors lose sensitivity over time and should be replaced every five years.

Source: Consumer Report 2005

Here are some tips from The CDC, The Center for Disease Control:

How can I prevent CO poisoning from my home appliances?

  • Have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do not use portable flameless chemical heaters (catalytic) indoors. Although these heaters don’t have a flame, they burn gas and can cause CO to build up inside your home, cabin, or camper.
  • If you smell an odor from your gas refrigerator’s cooling unit have an expert service it. An odor from the cooling unit of your gas refrigerator can mean you have a defect in the cooling unit. It could also be giving off CO.
  • When purchasing gas equipment, buy only equipment carrying the seal of a national testing agency, such as the American Gas Association or Underwriters’ Laboratories.
  • Install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.

How do I vent my gas appliances properly?

  • All gas appliances must be vented so that CO will not build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Never burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented.
  • Have your chimney checked or cleaned every year. Chimneys can be blocked by debris. This can cause CO to build up inside your home or cabin.
  • Never patch a vent pipe with tape, gum, or something else. This kind of patch can make CO build up in your home, cabin, or camper.
  • Horizontal vent pipes to fuel appliances should not be perfectly level. Indoor vent pipes should go up slightly as they go toward outdoors. This helps prevent CO or other gases from leaking if the joints or pipes aren’t fitted tightly.

There are more useful tips on the CDC website for times when the electricity is out, as an example.

Soon, in Washington State homes will be required to have a carbon monoxide detector, but don’t wait until then.  You could be playing with your life.