Carbon Monoxide and Fire Safety in the Home
Updated: Jun 1, 2020
As a homeowner, it’s important to be aware of the preventable risks associated with carbon monoxide and fire in the home, in order to help protect you and the homes inhabitants.
A sobering fact: More than 50 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning in Canada. Of those 50 deaths, 11 of those cases occur in Ontario on average.
Carbon Monoxide is a colourless odourless gas that is produced as a by-product of incomplete combustion of carbon based fuels such as; Wood, propane, natural gas, heating oil, coal, charcoal, kerosene and gasoline.
Attached garages can pose a carbon monoxide risk, when running vehicles are present in the garage.
For this reason the Ontario Building code (and other jurisdictional regulations depending on your location) maintains requirement for gas tightness in garage walls and openings, such as requiring sealed penetrations, taped and mudded/sealed drywall seams and self closers on doors leading to adjacent living space. Be sure to check with your local authorities regarding complete regulations related to garage safety requirements for more detailed information.
Another risk of carbon monoxide in the home comes from fuel burning appliances, such as fireplaces, furnaces and water heaters for example.
Maintaining fuel burning appliances to ensure they are in good working order and are vented properly is the first line of defence against preventing hazardous levels of carbon monoxide in the home.
Be sure to have fuel burning appliances inspected, maintained and cleaned annually by a licensed HVAC/Gas or WETT certified technician.
Wood burning fireplaces and chimneys should be inspected and cleaned by a WETT certified technician annually.
Not only can these safety tips help prevent the risk of Carbon Monoxide in the home, but they will help to ensure your appliances are maintained in good working order and may even help extend the life of some equipment.
FACT: Individuals are most vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning while they are sleeping.
For this reason, the second line of defense against the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning is to ensure your home is equipped with carbon monoxide detectors where required per your municipal regulations.
In Ontario, Carbon monoxide detectors are required by law in all homes containing an attached garage and/or fuel burning appliance. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation instructions and locations. Carbon monoxide detectors are required to be installed adjacent to any and all sleeping areas. Multi dwelling residential units are also required to have a carbon monoxide detector installed in the service room containing a fuel burning appliance.
Smoke detectors/alarms are required on every level of the home and adjacent to any and all sleeping areas.
It is highly recommended to inspect and test your existing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors monthly by pressing the test button. Ensure they are functioning properly and are not out of date. They need to be replaced within 10 years from date on the back. Many new detectors display a “replace by” date.
Replace the batteries at least once a year or when they start to “chirp” if they are not permanently wired/plugged into a receptacle, or include a battery backup. A good rule of thumb is to change the batteries when you change the clocks at day light savings time in the spring and fall.
Fire safety tips:
Be prepared: Have a home escape plan in case of a fire!
It’s a good idea to be prepared in case of a fire. Knowing where all emergency exits are for every room in the home and preparing a floor plan illustrating primary and secondary escape routes is a great idea.
Study the plan with all members of the household, so everyone knows what to do in case of a fire. It’s a good idea to decide on a common meeting place at the exterior of the home to meet and count heads afterwards. Prepare in case of emergency with a fire drill a few times a year to practice and get to know your plan.
For more detailed information on Fire safety and regulations in Ontario; visit the Ontario Association of Fire Chief’s Public safety webpage at: http://www.oafc.on.ca/public-safety
Be prepared in case of emergency and help to reduce the risks of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning by following these tips and be sure to familiarize yourself with your local safety regulations.
If you have questions about fire safety regulations and/or carbon monoxide risks, contact your local fire department for more information.
Owner and Home Inspector Philip Goldsmith is a Registered Home Inspector(RHI - OAHI), CP I- INterNACHI) is trained and certified in "Thermal imaging and Building Science"; New Construction Inspection (Tarion Warranty), Radon measurement (CNRPP Certified) and is a WETT Certified Inspector (Wood burning appliances).
Certified Member of CARST(Canadian Association of Radon Scientists and Technologists)Certified Radon Measurement Professional, C-NRPP (Canadian National Radon Proficiency Program) C-NRPP Certification ID: CRT-202109CARST MEMBERSHIP INFO:https://www.carst.ca/Sys/PublicProfile/49446885/1695927
As a member of OAHI, InterNACHI, WETT, CNRPP and CARST, following the Associations' Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice, Phil is dedicated to continually furthering his education and knowledge related to the Home Inspection, home construction and public safety industries and ongoing educational requirements.