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Carbon monoxide alarm requirements for Minnesota, including the little details

By In Carbon Monoxide Alarms On May 10, 2011


Carbon monoxide alarms are required in just about every type of dwelling in Minnesota, and it’s been this way for several years now, but there is still a lot of confusion about this requirement.

General Requirement - This text comes directly from Minnesota Statute 299F.50:

Every single family dwelling and every dwelling unit in a multifamily dwelling must have an approved and operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within ten feet of each room lawfully used for sleeping purposes.

One and one half story houses: you need a carbon monoxide alarm on the second floor.  A carbon monoxide alarm installed on the first floor within ten feet of the stairway to the second floor does not count as being installed within ten feet of the second floor bedroom.  The second floor bedroom begins at the top of the stairway, not the bottom.

What constitutes ten feet: Measure from the door of the sleeping room to the carbon monoxide alarm.  If you have to pass through a wall, floor, ceiling, or doorway with a door that can be closed, it doesn’t count.  No carbon monoxide alarms in bathrooms.

CO Alarm in bathroom

How this law gets enforced: For the most part, it doesn’t.  Building inspection departments may notify homeowners that carbon monoxide alarms are required, but the intent of this law wasn’t to make building inspection departments enforce carbon monoxide alarms (although many still do).   The exception to this is Minneapolis and South Saint Paul; both of those cities require carbon monoxide alarms for their Truth-in-Sale of Housing programs.

Definition of “installed”: this text comes directly from the Minnesota statute:

“Installed” means that an approved carbon monoxide alarm is hard-wired into the electrical wiring, directly plugged into an electrical outlet without a switch, or, if the alarm is battery powered, attached to the wall of the dwelling.

While the official definition doesn’t mention mounting the detector on the ceiling, that’s ok too. If a carbon monoxide alarm is sitting on someone’s desk, it’s not installed.

CO Alarm on desk

When to replace: Approximately 99.3% of the CO alarms that I come across are made by Kidde or First Alert.  Kidde CO alarms last seven years, while First Alert CO alarms last five years.  You won’t find that information published on either of their web sites though; you actually need to call them to get that info.

Where to mount carbon monoxide alarms: follow the installation instructions from the manufacturer.  In general, carbon monoxide alarms can be mounted high or low on the walls, as long as children can’t mess with them.

CO Alarm on cable jack

 

The CO alarm pictured above was actually hanging from a cable jack on the wall of a kid’s toy room; I’d consider that a poor location.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

        

 


About the Author

Reuben

Reuben is a second generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben has worked for Structure Tech since it was purchased by Neil in 1997, and is now co-owner of the company. Reuben’s favorite customers are the ones who have a lot of questions; he grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Reuben has an A.A. degree in liberal arts and has attended most of the Building Inspection Technology classes at North Hennepin Community College. Reuben and his wife are the proud parents of two young childen, Cy Alexander and Lucy Nicole, and have a German Shepherd named Stanley. With two young children Reuben doesn’t have much free time, but he still tries to play disc golf as often as possible during the summer. Reuben lives in Maple Grove, MN. Professional Qualifications / Memberships: *ASHI Certified Inspector *President, ASHI Heartland Chapter *Member, Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors (MSHI) *Licensed Minneapolis Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Saint Paul Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Maplewood Truth-in-Sale of Housing Evaluator *Licensed Hopkins Truth-in-Housing Evaluator *Licensed Robbinsdale Point of Sale Evaluator *Affiliate Member, Southern Twin Cities Association of Realtors

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