A few years ago, I did a home inspection on Cobb Mountain on a quaint little house tucked into the woods.  It was an older house that suffered from neglect but the young couple from San Francisco were anxious to buy it for a weekend getaway.  When I crawled under the house I found that a vent had been disconnected and not securely reconnected when some prior plumbing work had been done.  The vent was right under the master bedroom.  If I had not spotted it and called it out to the buyers, carbon monoxide would have been emitted into the bedroom the first winter night they turned on the furnace and went to sleep.  They may very well have not woken up.  That was a couple years before carbon monoxide detectors were required.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

The Governor of California signed Senate Bill 183 into law, requiring that alarm devices be installed in California’s existing single-family homes by July 1, 2011.

In heating systems, venting, distributing systems, cooling systems, energy sources and connections, the availability of outside combustion air and venting systems is extremely important.  Although HVAC units and water heaters are vital to your comfort, they are also potentially lethal.  Carbon monoxide is the number one cause of accidental poisoning in the U.S.

This legislation brings the Golden State in-line with other states and municipalities nationwide that have enacted laws to help protect residents from carbon monoxide
 (CO) poisoning including New York, Minnesota and Illinois.

Television ads have started that bring the importance of this issue to every viewer’s attention.  Carbon Monoxide is a silent and frequent killer.  Often adults get violently ill and get help in time to survive while smaller children succumb more quickly.  It is the cause of heartbreak for many a parent who survives while losing their children.

Claiming hundreds of lives each year,
 CO is the number one cause of accidental poisoning in the United States. Colorless and odorless, carbon monoxide is virtually impossible to detect without a CO alarm. A 2009 study conducted by First Alert revealed that nearly half (47 percent) of U.S. households are not equipped with these lifesaving devices. The California Air Resources Board also sites “avoidable deaths” each year in California due to unintentional CO poisoning.

Recently, in our area, a
faulty or improperly ventilated heating appliance caused four occupants in a Petaluma home to become temporarily ill from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Units from the Petaluma fire department arrived at the home five minutes after receiving the call of a possible gas problem.

Firefighters immediately detected high levels of carbon monoxide inside the residence using a hand-held gas monitor. The natural gas line was then turned off.

The four occupants, two adults and two children, began to feel better once they were outside. But officials said they were taken to a local hospital for further evaluation.

The home was ventilated by firefighters until air readings were back to normal. Other occupants in the residence were not home at the time.

Pacific Gas & Eelectric arrived to investigate the problem. It was determined that the cause of the leak was a gas-powered furnace in the house that was not ventilated properly.
A PG&E crew determined that the residence was safe for occupants to stay in for the night as long as the furnace was not used until it was properly repaired or replaced.

According to PG&E's Web site, carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that you cannot smell or see. It is produced as a common by-product of burning fossil fuels. These by-products are usually safe with proper ventilation.

But inadequate oxygen in the burning process or improper ventilation can increase carbon monoxide production to dangerous levels. Common sources of carbon monoxide include gasoline engines running in closed garages, fuel space heaters or
water heaters with improper venting and blocked chimneys or vent pipes.

Do not neglect these additions to your new home.  The installation of smoke detectors in every sleeping room and the hallway outside of sleeping rooms is required in most jurisdictions.  When conducting a home inspection, it is one of the very important items I check for.