Installer's Update

Proper Installation and Service of Carbon Monoxide Detectors


Legislated detector requirements

In North America, some national, state and local municipalities require installation of CO detectors in new and existing homes as well as commercial businesses, among them Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey,  Vermont and New York City as well as the Canadian province of Ontario. Installers are encouraged to check with their local municipality to determine what specific requirements have been enacted in their jurisdiction.


Industry Standards Development

Help is on the way. Within the last few months, both the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), Quincy, Mass., and the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), Vienna, Va., have released standards for the proper installation, service and notification and dispatch (respectively) of carbon monoxide detectors.

In the 2009 version of NFPA 720 Standard for the Installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment, the agency expands the standards requirements beyond dwelling units to apply to all buildings and structures including: hotels, rooming houses, dormitories, day care facilities, schools, hospitals, assisted-living facilities and nursing homes. Provisions cover the installation, location, performance, inspection, testing and maintenance of carbon monoxide detection and warning equipment.

In addition to the broader scope, significant requirements in the 2009 edition include these provisions for non-residential occupancies:

• The capacity of the secondary power supply to include the capability of operating all carbon monoxide notification appliances for 12 hours.

• Location of carbon monoxide detectors on the ceiling in the same room as permanently installed fuel-burning appliances.

• Location of carbon monoxide detectors on every habitable level and in every HVAC zone of the building.

• Functional testing (beginning in 2012) and sensitivity testing (beginning in 2015) of CO detectors with CO gas.

Updated rules for dwelling units include new requirements for the following:

• Locating carbon monoxide alarms/detectors on every level (in addition to outside sleeping areas).

Battery backup for electrically powered units in new homes.

• Interconnection of CO alarms in new homes to assure early warning of occupants at all levels.


In the newly released ANSI/CSAA CS-CO-01-2008 Carbon Monoxide Supervising Station Response Standard, the CSAA seeks to clarify the proper response procedure for a supervising station to a carbon monoxide detector alarm transmitted to the supervising station. The standard applies to both residential and commercial installations.

Installers are urged to read both of the standards so that they can become familiar with the proper methods for installing, servicing, testing and inspecting these devices.


Continuing your CO awareness

This article is designed as an overview of a very unique segment of the industry. The insights and observations have been provided as a beginning guide to aid you in understanding some of the opportunities and obstacles you may face. Given the life safety nature of the system installed, installers should take extra care to ensure that the specified system meets the applicable code requirements for their geographic area. Also, keep an eye on new pending legislation for newly adopted regulations.


About this article:

Significant portions of this article were excerpted from various NBFAANationalTraining School courses. Insight from the Consumer Product Safety Commission on CO poisoning was also included. With over 35,000 individuals attending NTS courses since its creation in 1985, it is clearly the “Gold Standard” for training individuals on the fundamentals of the Electronic Life Safety and Security Industry ( All code references have been paraphrased. Readers are encouraged to read the entire referenced code in its full context.


About the Author:

Dale R. Eller serves the NBFAA as Director of Education and Standards. A 25 year industry veteran, Eller’s firm ITZ Solutions! provides consulting, training and management services to the NBFAA.