Papers Provide Placement Practices
As a result of these studies, the Technical Committee made the following amendments to the 2012 edition of NFPA 720:
22.214.171.124 Requirements for Carbon Monoxide Detectors
126.96.36.199.1 —Carbon monoxide detectors shall be installed as specified in the manufacturer’s published instructions in accordance with 188.8.131.52.1(1) and 184.108.40.206.1(2), or 220.127.116.11.1 (3):
(1) On the ceiling in the same room as permanently installed fuel-burning appliances
(2) Centrally located on every habitable level and in every HVAC zone of the building
(3) A performance-based design in accordance with 18.104.22.168.2.
22.214.171.124.5 —The location of carbon monoxide detectors shall be based on an evaluation of potential ambient sources and flows of carbon monoxide, moisture, temperature, dust, or fumes and of electrical or mechanical influences to minimize nuisance alarms.
126.96.36.199.6 —The selection and placement of [carbon monoxide] detectors shall take into account both the performance characteristics of the detector and the areas into which the detectors are to be installed to prevent nuisance alarms or improper operation after installation.
For residential occupancies, the Technical Committee added the following to the standard:
188.8.131.52 —Carbon monoxide alarms or detectors shall be installed as follows:
(1) Outside of each separate dwelling unit sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms
(2) On every occupiable level of a dwelling unit, including basements, excluding attics and crawl spaces
(3) Other locations where required by applicable laws, codes, or standards
184.108.40.206 —Each alarm or detector shall be located on the wall, ceiling, or other location as specified in the manufacturer’s published instructions that accompany the unit.
The committee also added an annex to 220.127.116.11 that explains effective performance is generally not dependent on mounting height. This is because the density of CO is similar to that of air at room temperature, and unlike smoke CO generally mixes readily with air.
In Sum: 3 Steps to Proper CO Detection
In conclusion, the installer should be familiar with NFPA 720 and the manufacturer’s instructions for the device being installed. The installer should also be familiar with the occupancy and the location of any fuel-burning appliances. Finally, the installer should be aware of the requirements for CO detection contained within the IRC as well as any state or local regulations.
Shane Clary, Ph.D., has more than 37 years of security and fire alarm industry experience. He serves on a number of NFPA technical committees, and is Vice President of Codes and Standards Compliance for Pacheco, Calif.-headquartered Bay Alarm Co.
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