New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Cause for Alarm: A New City Law on Replacing Carbon Monoxide Detectors is Now in Effect

New York City

Carbon Monoxide Alarm

(pic via)

May 17, 2012

Responsibility. In a co-op, the corporation technically owns all the units, which means that the board is responsible for making sure that at least one CO alarm is installed and replaced in all units in accordance with the law. The law allows tenants to install their own alarms, but because the co-op is ultimately responsible, it is recommended that they inspect the shareholder's work afterwards. In a condo, however, CO alarms in apartments are generally the responsibility of the individual unit-owners. The same laws apply to them when it comes to approved devices and replacement schedules. Note also that the law requires alarms to be installed even in unoccupied units.

A Silent, Invisible Killer 

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a particularly
dangerous gas because in addition to
being fatal in large enough quantities,
 it is odorless, colorless, tasteless, and

The major sources of CO in apartments
are devices that burn fossil fuels: oil
burners, furnaces, water heaters,
fireplaces, and cars in parking garages.
Warning signs of CO poisoning include
headaches, dizziness, tiredness, and

If you feel that you are suffering from
the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning
or that your home may have a CO leak,
immediately open all of the windows,
remove yourself from your home, and
call the fire department.

Approved devices. To satisfy the requirements of city law, CO detectors must be endorsed by Underwriters Laboratories, signified by a "UL" marking on the device or packaging. In existing buildings, a CO detector can be battery-operated or plug-in as long as it has a battery backup in case of power interruption. New or substantially improved buildings must have detectors that are hard-wired to the building's electrical systems. The installation of a combination smoke alarm/CO detector is allowed.

Placement. City law requires a CO alarm to be installed within 15 feet of the primary entrance to each bedroom in an apartment. Unlike smoke detectors, they do not necessarily have to be installed high up, as CO is the same density as air and does not rise to the ceiling as smoke does. To ensure proper operation, do not install them next to bathrooms, which are sources of humidity, or near gas-burning stoves or dryers. Do not place them in areas where they are likely to be damaged by children or pets.

Maintenance. All CO alarms should have a "test" button and should be tested regularly - once a month is a good rule of thumb. Batteries should be changed twice a year. To make it easier to remember, the city recommends changing the batteries in your CO detector (and smoke detector) at the same time you change your clocks for daylight savings time. Tenants are responsible for this maintenance, so co-op boards should be sure to advise them of these best practices.

Certification and Notice. After installing or replacing a CO alarm, the responsible owner must file a Certificate of Satisfactory Installation with the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) within 10 days. This form can also be filed online. In addition, HPD requires buildings to post a notice of CO alarm requirements in a common area and provide written information about the testing and maintenance of the installed CO alarms and more general information about carbon monoxide poisoning to an adult occupant of each unit when the alarm is installed.

Records. After installing approved CO alarms, owners must keep all records relating the their installation and maintenance and make them available to HPD, the Department of Buildings, the Fire Department, and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene upon request.

Ask the Experts

learn more

Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

Source Guide

see the guide

Looking for a vendor?