Protect yourself from liability. Make sure all your rental units have CO alarms and a CO maintenance plan!
Carbon monoxide (CO) is the leading cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. It is an odorless and tasteless gas that is the by-product of combustion (burning fuel). Malfunctioning appliances can put your tenants at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Dealing with carbon monoxide is a simple, two-step process:
- Make sure all your units have functioning carbon monoxide alarms.
- Make sure gas-burning appliances are maintained regularly.
While CO alarms are not required by most local housing codes, they are still a good idea. CO alarms operate much like fire detectors. Battery-powered alarms will operate even if there is a power outage. It is not necessary to buy the deluxe model or an alarm that measure multiple things like smoke and natural gas. An inexpensive CO alarm will do. These alarms can be purchased for as little as $20.
According to www.carbonmonoxidekills.com, proper placement of a carbon monoxide detector is important. If you are installing only one carbon monoxide detector, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends it be located near the sleeping area, where it can wake your tenants if they are asleep. Additional detectors on every level and in every bedroom of a home provide extra protection.
For more in-depth information on carbon monoxide, see the website www.carbonmonoxidekills.com.
Maintaining your appliances
Malfunctioning gas furnaces are the number-one cause of unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning in the United States. Other sources of deadly carbon monoxide include gas stoves and ovens, kerosene heaters, generators, vehicles and any other items that burn fuel. When these items are maintained and used correctly, they can be perfectly safe. It is when they malfunction or are used inappropriately, such as without adequate ventilation, that they become dangerous. To prevent carbon monoxide from affecting your tenants, here are some tips:
- Furnaces - Malfunctioning home furnaces cause up to 18.5% of all accidental carbon monoxide poisonings in the United States. Make sure all furnace work is done by a licensed heating contractor. Have furnaces inspected each fall before the winter heating season to make sure they are operating properly.
- Clothes Dryers - If an apartment's clothes dryer is heated by gas, make sure it is properly vented to the outdoors. Venting should be a hard-sided dryer vent, not flexible tubing. Regularly inspect the dryer's outside vent to make sure it does not become plugged with lint.
- Stoves - Make sure stove burners are burning cleanly. During your annual inspection or at vacancy, check to ensure that the flame is blue, not orange. Discuss this and other tips with your tenants and enlist their help in keeping your rental property and their families safe from carbon monoxide.
- Kerosene Heaters - These heaters are designed to be used with ventilation and must be exceptionally well maintained. They are not recommended for heating homes. Do not provide kerosene heaters to tenants without heat.
For more information, contact the Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan at (616) 241-3300.
Making sure children grow up in homes that are healthy and safe is everyone’s job! The Healthy Homes Coalition is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Learn more about specific ways you can help protect children. Connect with us today!