Where NOT to install a carbon monoxide detector

Laws can sometimes seem confusing, right? In July 2011 it became mandatory in California for single family dwellings to have carbon monoxide detectors, so home owners and the real estate community have scrambled to understand the requirements. Basically, you should have a CO detector if your home has any of the following: a) Attached garage; b) Fireplace; or c) Any gas appliance or a gas heater. Most houses have one of the three, so this means carbon monoxide detectors are required for most homes.

Carbon monoxide detector inside of a bedroom - Sacramento Appraisal Blog

What’s wrong with this photo? I’ve seen this issue quite a bit lately and twice in the past week. What problem exists when having only one carbon monoxide detector in a house INSIDE the bedroom? There are two issues:

  1. A bedroom installation appears to violate Sacramento County Code since CO detectors are required “outside” of a sleeping area (see below). There is no rule against them being inside bedrooms, but if they are ONLY in bedrooms, that’s a problem. Most online sources say carbon monoxide detectors should be installed outside the sleeping areas, but if you want to go the extra mile, install them inside bedrooms also.
  2. I’m not a carbon monoxide specialist, but doesn’t it seem best to install the detector in a place to alert you BEFORE it gets to your bedroom?

What does County code say? Sacramento County Code Section B-8 R315.1 and R315.2 says the following regarding where carbon monoxide detectors should be installed:

  1. Outside of each separate dwelling unit sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedroom(s).
  2. On every level of a dwelling unit including basements.

How many should you install? If you have a two-story house or several sleeping areas in your home, it may be necessary to install several CO detectors (not just one). Check out a previous post I wrote to view diagrams on where to install carbon monoxide detectors. Since CO detectors are required for FHA loans (in California at least where it is the law), they should be installed properly to avoid required repairs during the appraisal process.

Further Resources:
Office of the State Fire Marshal in California (PDF article)
California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (article)
Health and Safety Code Section 13260-13263 (the letter of the law) 

I hope this helps. Be safe out there.

If you have any questions or Sacramento home appraisal or property tax appeal needs, let’s connect by phone 916-595-3735, email, Twitter, subscribe to posts by email (or RSS) or “like” my page on Facebook


  1. says

    Thanks always for keeping our sellers informed – to see this in print in “real language” helps sellers understand the “what, where, and why” of regulation. So thank you Ryan! You have been very helpful on the CO detector mysteries for our sellers when we share your articles.

    • says

      Thanks so much Heather. I really appreciate it.

      It seems like many agents and owners are aware of the issue, but there is still room to digest the technicalities and get refreshed on the specifics from time to time. Thanks again.

    • says

      Hi Victor. Thanks for asking. They do not as far as I know unless code has changed. The definitive source of course would be a quick call to your local fire department. Keep in mind code in California could be different for homes that are brand new, but existing homes do not have to be hard-wired (what a pain that would be for so much of the housing stock).


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