In fact, most construction rules now mandate the installation of a carbon monoxide alarm on each story of the home. However, if you don't have any sources of combustible fuel in your home—that is, if your space heaters and whole-house heating system, as well as all of your appliances, are all electric—then a CO detector isn't actually essential.
The reason for this is that there is no gas left over from the combustion process to release when the pilot light or heater turns off. Thus, none of this "fuel" is available to create more CO unless another source comes on-line. For example, if you had a traditional stove with burners that were turned off but not removed before being transported into an electric home, then those stoves would need to be connected to a CO detector because they would be able to emit CO even when not being used.
However, since most electric space heaters only use one wire to connect them to a power source and then again to ground them, there is no way for these devices to emit CO. They would need a separate circuit with its own pilot light or heater element to do so, which means that they would need to be hooked up to a CO detector.
This is why it's important to understand the regulations regarding CO detectors in electric homes.
A carbon monoxide detector should be installed in any house that has at least one fuel-burning device or heater, a connected garage, or a fireplace. If there is just one carbon monoxide detector in the house, it should be positioned in the main bedroom or in the hallway outside of the sleeping area.
Carbon monoxide detectors can be analog or digital. An analog detector uses a needle to show how much carbon monoxide is in the air. These detectors are still used but are being replaced with digital models. A digital detector gives a quick visual alert and can also give a reading on its display screen. These detectors are more reliable than the analog models and can continue to provide information even if the power goes out.
Detectors should be located as far away from heaters and fireplaces as possible. However, if this space is limited, they can be placed next to each other without causing problems. Make sure that people cannot reach the sensor when it is activated.
Household appliances such as stoves, water heaters, dryers, and hot-water tanks can produce carbon monoxide. These devices must have their own separate carbon monoxide detector. All household devices that use fuel must be equipped with functional carbon monoxide alarms. These alarms should be maintained by cleaning them regularly and replacing the battery once every year.
Carbon monoxide detectors must be installed in newly constructed residential units with a fuel-burning heating or cooking device; all rooms in which a person will sleep that are next to, directly below, and above all regions or rooms that include permanently installed fuel-burning equipment; and on outboard motors.
The danger from carbon monoxide arises only if you are unable to breathe it. Therefore, detectors should be placed so that they can alert someone if there is any trouble breathing. The detector should also be located away from the source of the gas so that it will go off when needed.
Installers should ensure that detectors are working properly by testing them regularly. If their batteries have gone dead, replace them immediately. Refer to the user's manual for instructions on how to do this.
Young children, older adults, and people with respiratory problems such as asthma may not realize enough carbon monoxide has entered their bodies to cause damage. Such people should be alerted to the presence of carbon monoxide via a detector since it would be impossible for them to feel its effects.
People who work with fuels such as coal or oil and natural gas should know that these sources also emit carbon monoxide. Workers should be advised about the dangers of carbon monoxide and given information on how to protect themselves.
Detectors should be maintained by testing them periodically.
Carbon monoxide detectors for gas appliances are currently not needed by law in privately owned, privately leased, or subsidized housing. The laws do, however, propose that landlords install carbon monoxide detectors in all rooms with gas equipment. Landlords are also encouraged to have their heating and air-conditioning systems inspected by a professional service company at least once every year.
If you own your home, check with your local building department to make sure you're not required to have a CO detector. Also ask if there are any special requirements for new construction or renovations. If you find out that you do need one, look into the different models available and decide what type of detector will work best in your home. Some options include dial-, photoelectric-, battery-powered sensors designed to alert people when they are exposed to carbon monoxide.
Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems can be found in most homes today. These systems use electricity to heat or cool air which is then distributed through the house using fans or ducts. Most HVAC systems include a carbon monoxide sensor that alerts people when levels rise too high. This can help prevent anyone from being asphyxiated if they are left alone in the house with the system on.
Landlords are responsible for ensuring that tenants receive safe living environments.