Technology is a wonderful thing, but every advance creates some sort of challenge. In the case of building construction, great strides have been made in tightening homes. When built properly, new homes won’t have drafty windows and doors. Walls are often lined with a vapor barrier that also reduces draft and keeps moisture out of the walls. One benefit of fewer drafts is reduced heating costs. A drawback is the inability of a house to breathe.
Just like you or I, a house needs to breathe. Of course all houses breathe to some extent, but older houses had the ability to breathe more because drafty construction allowed outside air to pass through creating a fresh/stale air exchange. One of the greatest dangers associated with a house not being able to breathe is the potential for our fossil fuel burning appliances to build up dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in the home. Carbon monoxide is a natural byproduct of combustion. It can be generated by gas appliances, oil burning appliances, wood stoves, pellet stoves or any other appliance that burns fossil fuels.
When properly installed and maintained, these appliances are designed to remove the carbon monoxide and other hazardous byproducts directly to the outside. Unfortunately, maintenance and installation issues can cause those products to sometimes back up into the home. In older homes the air exchanged so often that many times people didn't notice the problem until it was an extreme backup. In newer construction, the air doesn't move as much and even small leaks or backups can quickly fill a home.
As a result of recent tragic carbon monoxide poisonings, the Massachusetts Senate and House passed "Nicole's Law". The law requires every home or habitable building with fossil fuel burning appliance to be equipped with carbon monoxide detectors.
Buying a carbon monoxide detector can be difficult. There are several brands and styles ranging from battery powered to plug in. Each detector is designed to be used in different locations. Plug in detectors are designed to work properly 18 inches off the floor, a typical outlet height. Most carbon monoxide detectors are designed to be placed on a wall no closer than 12 inches from the ceiling. Ceiling mounted detectors are often combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and are required by Massachusetts law to have a voice that clearly states whether the alarm is for carbon monoxide or smoke.
No matter which type of carbon monoxide detector is purchased, your home should have at least one on each habitable floor of the home. In other words, if you have a finished room in the basement of your home you need a carbon monoxide detector in the basement. On levels with sleeping areas, the detectors need to be placed within 10 feet of the sleeping areas. Close placement allows a sleeping resident to hear the alarm through a closed door.
Not only are carbon monoxide detectors the law, having them might save your family from suffering a tragic loss. Make sure to read the instructions on the detector you purchase, improperly used detectors may cause false alarms or not work in an emergency. Protect yourself, Protect your family. Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors.
Plug in Carbon Monoxide detectors that do not have a battery back up do not meet the requirements of Nicole's Law. Plug In detectors must either have a 9 volt battery back up or a self contained rechargeable battery. With out the safety of a battery back up, the alarm can't give you the protection you need in the event of a power failure. Be sure to know the detector you are buying. Protect yourself, protect your family.