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The new 2009 IRC mandates wired together smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors be placed at the entry of each bedroom and outside the bedrooms in a common hall. This means that if one detector alarms then all of them alarm. When remodeling, there is a mandate to upgrade homes when a permit is pulled.

Thankfully there are times when it would be a hardship and/or too complicated or expensive to retrofit the entire home. In some cases battery operated devices are still allowed. Essentially, If there is a crawl space below or an attic above then you are able to go ahead and upgrade without too much difficulty.  At Levco this upgrade is discussed early in the project planning phase so as not to be a surprise to my clients.


Smoke detectors

detect smoke by two basic types, photoelectric detectors and ionization detectors. Smoke is the precursor to fire which as we all know is deadly. There are all kinds of harmful ingredients in smoke and if working properly they detect and alarm loud enough to alert the occupants.

Theoretically folks will have early warning and use the time wisely to get out to fresh air and safety. Studies have shown that they are not always successful waking children so parents be warned.


CO Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide

CO is a byproduct of incomplete combustion that is not necessarily a precursor to fire and is odorless and invisible. It kills by working at the cellular level. Your oxygen carrying hemoglobin of the red blood cells prefer carbon monoxide to oxygen.  Once in your blood stream, your cells have no oxygen to use for cellular metabolism so you begin to suffocate at a cellular level. A faulty furnace or combustion chamber can cause it.

One neighbor of mine took the flu off the top of the furnace in the basement “to get the extra heat that was being wasted and escaping”. They survived thanks to having few windows that were not broken out. Common symptoms include headache and drowsiness. Severe long lasting neurological complications have resulted from moderate exposures.


Combination detector

Dual Acting Units

Levco has located several dual acting devices that work. They look good so I encourage everyone to update their devices to the dual acting ones. Both First Alert and Kidde make them and they are available through your favorite big box store. This one also talks telling you what to do.

Through my years in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) there has been too many saves from smoke detectors to count. Not to mention a reduced number of house fires. It was common place for us to check smoke detectors on medical calls and replace batteries or offer free devices for the needy.

I believe that mandatory implementation of this life saving device is long overdue. I was inadvertently exposed in the line of duty to Carbon Monoxide during a major incident many years ago under the Bay Bridge. I have cared for those who have suffered long term sequelae, such a sad unnecessary situation. I have had a detector installed in all of my rentals and in my own home for years. In fact that detector was my first indication of my furnace failure ten years ago.

What To Do About Garages?

On a side note, there is no requirement for a smoke detector in a garage which is the starting point for many house fires. In this case we are adding a heat detector that senses a rapid change in temperature to sound the alarm. I think we are one step ahead of the IRC code.

Your comments are welcome. To ask questions or get more information about remodeling, click here to email me directly, or call 208-947-7261

Disclaimer: Some of these images came from the WEB. If they are yours, and you object to them being used, please claim them and I will gladly remove and replace them at once.

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