First it was smoke alarms, now it's carbon monoxide alarms. All single-family and two-family homes in Wisconsin are required to have carbon monoxide detectors by today, Feb. 1st, according to a recent news release from the Wisconsin Department of Commerce.

This comes on the heels of Madison's smoke alarm ordinance that went into effect in 2010 requiring hard-wired or 10-year battery-powered smoke alarms in bedrooms, as well as on all floors of any type of residence.

Carbon monoxide, also known as CO, is a byproduct of combustion that is colorless, odorless and tasteless and considered the leading cause of accidental poisoning in the United States, according to the American Medical Association.

"CO alarms have shown their effectiveness in alerting occupants to the presence of this poisonous gas," said Paul Jadin, Wisconsin's new secretary of commerce.

Homes being built after Feb. 1st, 2011 in Wisconsin will have to have CO detectors hard-wired into the home electrical system with backup battery supply, while existing dwellings may use battery-powered, stand-alone alarms.

Alarms are required in the basement and on every floor of a dwelling, except for attics and garages.

The law only applies to dwellings that contain CO sources, such as furnaces, fireplaces, heaters, cooking sources that use coal, wood, etc., and also residences with garages.

Basically, unless you have a totally electric home and no attached garage, you'll need CO alarms.

So sorry, Tweetie Bird isn't going to cut it anymore. You'll need an electronic carbon monoxide detector. The alarms are widely available at retailers and usually cost in the $15 to $30 range. Some companies also make dual smoke and CO alarms.

Posted by Jolenta Averill on
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I would say $30 is a fairly minor expense for something that could be lifesaving. Carbon monoxide is called the silent killer for a reason. Unlike a fire, which makes its presence quite known very quickly, a carbon monoxide leak may not be caught at all, which makes it so much more deadly. I understand that people don't like it when their government tells them what items they are required to buy for their own safety, but even if it weren't a requirement it's something I would greatly suggest anyone with a fireplace or any other amenities in their home that use CO gas to purchase.

Posted by Wagner Leite on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 at 1:10pm

Hi Jolenta,

Its a nice idea to have the CO monitors. While it does slightly drive up the cost of a home, its money well spent. My wife bought one a year ago for our home in KS. We sleep better at night knowing it is there. Does the ordinance make it a requirement for older homes too?

Posted by Ken Jansen on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 at 9:25pm

Hi Ken, Thanks for visiting. Good move on the part of you and your wife a year ago. Yes, the ordinance makes it required for all homes, old and new. Not sure if everyone is aware of it or not though. I was showing a 100+ year-old home today and I didn't see a single smoke detector or CO detector!

Posted by Admin on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 at 9:38pm

This just became manditory in California as of January 1st. While the state has required functioning smoke detectors in all homes at the time of transfer since 1995, this was just recently passed here. Not sure if this is really warranted in our area. We have mostly newer properties and mild temperatures so CO deaths are very rare. I can see the need in your part of the country though.
We also have a requirement that all water heaters be seismically retrofitted (the ground shakes here). The California Association of Realtors has successfully fought legislation to mandate seismic natural gas shut off valves at the time of transfer. The cost is almost $500 and the legislation was sponsored by the manufacturer of the valves.
Government should not be mandating every little aspect of our lives. Pretty soon we're going to asking why they don't get the chickweed out of our lawns.
thanks for posting. - Joe McDermott

Posted by Joe McDermott - Temecula Real Estate on Thursday, February 24th, 2011 at 9:39pm

This is a very important precaution. Making it mandatory will help inform the general public to keep people safe. I lived in San Diego for a short period of time and volunteered for an organization that installed smoke detectors in homes for people who could not afford them. This might be a good idea for Madison in regards to the CO detectors. Thanks for the informative post.

Posted by Will@MadisonLandlordInsurance on Wednesday, May 11th, 2011 at 3:01pm

I am going to say what everyone else have not said above, but i must say , you are genuinely well-informed.I cannot believe how much of this I just was not conscious of .Thanks for submitting more data on this topic for us .I’m truly happy and really impressed.

Posted by Aqiqah on Sunday, May 15th, 2011 at 2:25am

Try resetting it. Push and hold the litlte button for 5 seconds. There could be a locking pin on it. It looks like a litlte toothpick. If you remove this- you should be able to twist and remove it. Most smoke alarms have a 9v battery as a back up in case the power goes out.You should be able to remove it without cutting any wires.

Posted by Devin on Thursday, June 14th, 2012 at 6:32am

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