Washington State Carbon Monoxide Alarm Law—RCW 19.27.530


July 1, 2010 was the date set by the Washington State Legislature for implementation of the law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in single family residences.  As of that date all single family residences would be required to have a carbon monoxide alarms.  If you had

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

been in that residence prior to July 26, 2009 you would be exempted from the requirement.  It is hard to imagine why anyone would figure it is a good idea to not have one—but that is what freedom is all about I guess.

As of January 1, 2011, all newly constructed buildings classified for residential occupancy have to have carbon monoxide alarms, with a grace period for older residences until January 1, 2013.  In other words every residence in Washington State will require carbon monoxide alarms by January 1, 2013.

Those owner-occupied single family residences that were not required to install the alarms are required to install them in the home before the home can be occupied after being sold—-as of January 1, 2011 (This part is a little confusing because the law is retroactive to July 26, 2009).

There is a provision in the law for the code council to exempt certain classes of residential buildings, but as of now the law reads “ALL.”  With recent state cutbacks it may be some time before this becomes part of the building code—so for now we have to work with the ambiguity of the law.  I have to think that at some point everyone will come to their senses and realize that electrically heated homes with no combustion appliances do not need carbon monoxide detectors.  But for now the law reads ALL.

The last requirement of the law is interesting because it puts responsibility for maintenance of these alarms on the “tenant,” the person living in the building.  I feel this is as it should be—the same with smoke alarm/detectors.  We all need to take responsibility for these devices—take responsibility for our own safety regarding fire and carbon monoxide.

Washington State Carbon Monoxide Alarm Law—RCW 19.27.530

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32 Responses to Washington State Carbon Monoxide Alarm Law—RCW 19.27.530

  1. It seems like the state is really fumbling their way through this law. Is there that much insecurity in Olympia that they cannot come out with a law that will obviously protect the residents with a safety device? It took forever to appease special interest groups with seat belt laws and smoke alarm laws.
    Why not just pass a law that covers all people occupied spaces including hotels and motels? The detector/alarms which are on the market are constructed by companies for visual appeal and saleability. There must be a cheaper and more efficient device easily retrofit everywhere.

  2. Glenn, I agree, it seems as if the “input” time when this law was being formed was either inadequate or that the right stake-holders were not listened to. Also my post is focused on single family residential construction but the law applies to multi-family as well.

  3. I aways recommend them as upgrade for safety enhancement not only with gas or fuel oil appliances however especially if home has an attached garage. House to garage doors are not always properly weatherstripped and many times garages are not properly sealed to prevent carbon monoxide entry into living areas.

  4. paulmcfadden says:

    Charles: Thanks for the update. It seems kind of strange that home which were built before this are exempt but our lawmakers seem to make strange policy!

    • Paul, I think it is always government policy to give people more time to get up to speed in older homes—even when it involves peoples safety. Remember when they started requiring seat belts? They never would have made everyone go retrofit their old cars.

      • grandma says:

        pertaining to safety belts. We are force to wear safety belts in all states or most of them but in some states, bicycles, motor cycles and scookers have a choice to wear them or not to wear them. I feel that according to the our rights, we should have that right on where we want to or not and the same applies to the carbon monoxide detectors especially on older home. We should have that right to do that. I feel that I should have that right to choose. However, I feel it is the right thing to do on all but i still have that choice to do or not to do

      • We will just have to agree to disagree on this one.

  5. Pingback: Are you protected from carbon monoxide poisoning — Security Talk Blog

  6. Kirk says:

    It’s silly to require ALL houses to be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. You only need them if you have a fuel burning appliance that is in an attached garage, or inside the house. It is a waste of money to require installation in an all electric home….. they are not fuel burning appliances!
    Too bad they aren’t smart enough to realize that you don’t have to paint all the houses with the same brush!!

    • Kirk, actually the law was amended to NOT require them in homes that do not have fuel burning appliances unless those homes have an attached garage. Personally I think they should be in all homes regardless of types of heating systems because one of the reasons for carbon monoxide deaths in homes is when the power goes out and people bring their grilles and generators indoors. We can argue that that would be stupid—but “stupid” is often what rules are made for unfortunately.

      • Bob Croon says:

        Charles, law should not require do to generators and so forth. That alone opens endless laws that cost taxpayers. For instance, should a home owner have a drain installed in his drive to catch water and soap run off from washing the car leading to a containment area to be collected by a licensed environmental pump truck? Nonsense, and that’s just off the top of my head. Again, pure nonsense laws.

      • Bob I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this. I think that nobody is likely going to die from the results of washing cars in the driveway—unless you create slippery conditions and even then it would likely be the carwasher themselves. When people get cold and hungry they will do most anything to keep warm and cook food. Achieving those goals often results in the use of combustion devices not typically found in electrically heated homes. Several people died as a result of bringing charcoal cookers into their home during a long power outage and this set the stage for Washington’s version of the Carbon Monoxide law. You might say that people should have more common sense but the fact is people do not.

  7. Greg says:

    how many detectors are requred in a residentail home?

  8. Leslie Colvin Colvins Quality Inspections says:

    Charles Thanks for all of the clarification on this issue. One question, at what vertical level are they to be placed since CO is usually heavier than air as I understand, having them on the ceiling seems as a early warning to not make sence?

    • Leslie, from what I understand the difference in “weight” is so small that the normal mixing of air in a home negates the necessity for it to be lower. That said, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the particular unit you are buying. Since they are made in conjunction with ceiling mount smoke detectors it is logical to assume that they are OK on the ceiling. But of course we all know about “logic” and “assuming” 🙂

  9. Bob Croon says:

    Law unclear, if a 61 unit apartment complex built in 1988 with only elective service need to comply? Makes no sense to need them. No gas fireplace, no gas whatsoever. Ignorant law if structures as ours need to comply. Guess who the cost would be passed onto. Then it reads tenant responsable for maint.

  10. Kinch says:

    I have a six unit apartment, so If i purchase just one of those 3 prong plug-in carbon monoxide detector, would that be sufficient? I have no idea exactly how many CO detectors are required in each unit. Thanks!

    • Each of the units is going to likely need a detector in the vicinity outside each sleeping room and additional ones might be required elsewhere depending on the size of each unit. I am not sure when requirements for apartments/condos goes into effect—but are a good idea regardless.

  11. Marilyn Anderson says:

    Are carbon monoxide alarms required in multifamily rental residences in Pierce County? If so, what is the requirement deadline date?

  12. charles buell says:

    what is the law in Callaum, county and if it is rental property then who is responsable for install them, the owner or the renter and also is a house over 15 years old should it also apply. I feel this is a law for stupid people who had lost their heat and trying to keep warm with charcoal inside a close area, so everyone has to pay because of this

  13. charles buell says:

    looks like that the plug in kind would not pass code as if you lose your electric then it would not work.

  14. John Rockefella says:

    I was stuck in the outback, rained in for three days.
    Rolled down the windows halfway for ventilation, took out a welding rod bucket and set it on the metal floor of the old Cheyenne with hot rocks and burnt but glowing coals from the fire.
    My friend awoke me with his breathing heavy. I said,” What’s wrong!” He said I …..don’t …know… and and I thought he’d had a bad dream.
    Got him to get out of the truck and walk around a bit.. He came back about ten minutes later and explained his symptoms. Said he thought he was going to die. I got my ass out of the truck and no sooner did I have to sit down or pass out.
    It was a close one for both of us.
    Thank God we didn’t croak.
    And that was with adeguate ventilation.
    We decerned it was the light oil residue in the can that made the fumes so toxic, Carbon Monoxide.
    At first I was adverse to the idea of monoxide detectors till you mentioned what people will do when the heat goes.
    We are expierienced woodsman and have done that coal and hot rocks trick many times with no ill effects. However just a small viariable like light oil residue and you have a whole different scene.
    Just as if you were to use charcoal lighter fluid to start your coals to bring in the house to stay warm. Windows down and doors cracked makes no difference when fossil fuels are involved.
    A Carbon Monoxide sensor is a part of survival gear now. The Gary Mann Real Estate company is installing them here in the condominiums in Moses Lake, Wa on Monday.
    I offered to install it myself but for insurance reasons one of their emplyees has to plug it into the wall…:)
    No doubt in my mind lives with be saved.
    Thank you.
    John

  15. Steve McHugh says:

    Charles,
    I read through all of your replies and you sound sincere in your belief there is a need for CO detectors in apartment units without any fuel burning appliances or attached garages. Yes, some ignorant (not intended negative-used per definition) homeowners and tenants alike brought fuel burning devices indoors and tragically died. A much more sensible, reasonable and cost effective solution/requirement for buildings without fuel burning sources would be for the City to require a mailed informational handout describing the extreme dangers of bring FB devices indoors to exisitng tenants and a handout similar to Lead Paint/Mold Pamphlets required at lease signing. Possibly posted as well for larger properties with common areas condusive to posting. This should be required for all new leases even in buildings with FB sources and detectors as “education” is what we need. This law is a bandaid for ignorance. Long term tenants will let batteries die like they do smoke detectors…tenants will think they are smoke detectors and REMOVE batteries like so many are found during tenant turnover. Summary: I strongly disagree with this requirement and feel the City is over-stepping their bounds requiring the detectors in non-FB enviroments. Couple this with mandatory inspections for units with NO Violation History and it appears the City is discouraging landlords from offerring affordable rent.

  16. Rick Blair says:

    What I find troubling is that it is required on ALL residences even if there is no CO source, that is unless it is a STATE owned property such as a DORM, etc. Seems a bit extreme.

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