Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in rental properties - Use the holidays to comply before 1st October deadline

Update October 2015:

  • This is now law from the 1st October
  • A property must have a smoke alarm on each habitable floor. it can be battery operated and does not have to be mains wired.
  • A property must have a carbon monoxide alarm where there are solid fuel burning appliances i.e log burners and open fires. Not where Gas boilers are fitted but we do recommend they are. it can be battery operated and does not have to be mains wired.

Subject to Parliamentary Approval the Draft Legislation in regard to Smoke and CO Alarms will come into effect on 1st October 2015. Landlords will be required to have working smoke alarms on every floor of their property and Carbon Monoxide alarms installed and activated in rooms where a SOLID FUEL heating system is installed. This was the requirement when the legislation was announced in March which would mean open fires, log burners and aga’s that are wood and coal burning. At the moment the wording does not cover gas applances such as gas boilers, gas fires and gas hobs/cooker. We think this is an oversight and might be amended to include these before October. Alarms must be tested at the start of every new tenancy. There are no stipulations on the type of alarm it is left to Landlords to choose the best alarm for their circumstances in the property.

Where should you install carbon monoxide detectors, particularly how high off the floor?

Carbon Monoxide Alarms can be placed at any height on a wall or ceiling. It is a common misunderstanding that Carbon Monoxide Alarms must be placed near the ground to accurately detect levels of CO. In truth, Carbon Monoxide is roughly the same weight as air, and distributes evenly throughout a room. This means a CO detector can be placed at any height on a wall or ceiling. It is important to keep in mind that the CO Alarm must be placed in an area that allows for the siren to be heard. As Carbon Monoxide moves freely through the air, the Alarm must not be located near a ceiling fan, or blocked by furniture in order to detect CO levels accurately. Be sure to keep your Carbon Monoxide Alarm clean, and out of the way of children or pets.

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is known as the “silent killer” because it is odourless, tasteless and colourless. It’s also toxic, since the gas can prevent your body from properly transporting oxygen. If inhaled in high concentrations, carbon monoxide poisoning can happen quickly; it can also occur slowly if toxic gas levels build up slowly over time.

What are the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning?

People who have been exposed to carbon monoxide experience a range of symptoms that may include headaches, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, burning eyes and loss of consciousness. An acute case can result in brain damage and death. Note that children, seniors and people who have pre-existing respiratory or heart conditions are often more sensitive to the effects of carbon monoxide.

What are possible sources of carbon monoxide in the home?

Carbon monoxide is a natural by-product of many home appliances. If you use charcoal, gasoline, kerosene, wood, propane, natural gas or heating oil to create energy or heat – hot water heaters, grills, furnaces, fireplaces, stoves, room heaters, etc. – then there is potential for carbon monoxide in your home. It’s important to have these products installed by a professional, since proper installation, ventilation and maintenance will reroute any carbon monoxide emissions out of your home to keep your family safe.