Are Carbon Monoxide Detectors Required In A Garage?

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Published: May 21, 2018 Last Updated: July 6, 2019


Homeowner often wonder if there should be a carbon monoxide detector in their garage, because automobiles, gas water heaters and laundry gas dryers may give off carbon monoxide; a poisonous and odorless gas that can kill you.

Hybrid and keyless entry cars are higher risk

Car exhaust Carbon Monoxide

There is an increase in deaths and debilitating injuries resulting from carbon monoxide poisoning after drivers accidentally leave their cars running in the garage, especially hybrid cars. Many cars, including hybrid cars are very quiet and when parking in a garage, some drivers forget to turn their hybrid or keyless cars off. Then after the battery runs down the cars’ gas engine starts up to re-charge the battery and may run for hours; all the time emitting poisonous carbon monoxide gases.

In the meantime, the driver has gone inside the home, not realizing the car is still on. Seniors and the hard of hearing have even a high risk of this occurring and if the home doesn’t have proper carbon monoxide detectors, if the battery in the carbon monoxide detector is dead or if the detectors are in the wrong locations; then death may occur.

Carbon detectors in a garage – usually not required by code or recommended

The majority of building jurisdictions do not require a carbon monoxide detector in a garage and many professionals recommend that you do not put one in a garage.

Several reason for this:

  1. Carbon monoxide and combination alarms may not function in temperatures below 40 degrees or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Dust and other pollutants in the air may cause failure of the unit
  3. Nuisance tripping. The alarm may go off when a car is just pulled into the garage and left running for a very short period of time. After a couple of times of this nuisance tripping, some people will remove the batteries or disarm the detector.

What is usually recommended?

  • A carbon monoxide detector be installed inside the home within 10 feet of the door going to the garage
  • Bedrooms above the garage have a carbon monoxide detector
  • That all the rooms in the home where the code or the carbon monoxide detector manufacture recommends one. (read more on where to put carbon monoxide detectors)
Note of Caution: The majority of states and building jurisdictions have adopted and follow the IRC; the International Residential Code. However, some may modify or change the code requirements for their jurisdictions, so therefore a quick call to your local building department is recommended regarding code questions.

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