Accurate Review


Carbon Monoxide Detection

An Accurate Review White Paper, Winter 2017


By:  Don Olivieri, NCARB



Carbon Monoxide Detection

in the 2015 International Building Code


Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous, and fatal gas that is odorless and very difficult to detect without the right equipment. In or to protect the health and welfare of the public, the International Code Council has updated their detection requirements in the new 2015 International Building Code (IBC).  This short paper tries to layout the requirements of the Code, in regard to Equipment/Devises, locations and existing buildings requirements, in order to understand the Code Requirements.




Carbon Monoxide can easily be detected with the correct equipment. Both Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have guidelines in addition to the requirement in 915.3 thru 915.5 of the 2015 IBC. UL 2034 “Standard for Single and Multiple Station Carbon Monoxide Alarms” sets the minimum standard for the devises. UL217 is the standard when the alarm is a combination Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detection Devise. Always make sure every device meets one of these two standards. When it comes to the required placement of the devises one must refer to both the 2015 IBC and NFPA 720 which is the “Standard for the installation of Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detection and Warning Equipment”. This gets a little tricky, but just keep in mind that the 2015 IBC supersedes the NFPA Standard.




The requirements of the code only apply to buildings with Fuel Burning appliances, furnace, fireplaces or garages. Per IFC section 1103.9, carbon monoxide detectors are required to be installed in groups I-1, I-2, I-4, and R:


  1. Group E : Classrooms
  2. Group I-1: 24hour supervised facility for more than 16 persons
  3. Group I-2: Hospitals, nursing homes, Psychiatric facilities
  4. Group I-4: Adult and Child Day Care
  5. Group R: One and two family Dwellings, Multi-family dwellings, and Hotels/Motels/Group Homes/Congregate living facilities


The locations of the devises in this type of facility depend on the locations of the carbon monoxide source. Therefore a certified alarm company or design professional needs to be consulted to design the exact locations.




The 2015 IBC has very specific Inspection, testing and maintenance requirements outlined in section 915.6. The system as a whole and the devises all have a schedule to follow, be it weekly, monthly semiannually or annually.




It is important to note the International Code Council’s International Fire Code (IFC) applies to new construction but also existing buildings and structures. When an AHJ adopts the IFC, it is an automatic requirement that existing building meet the requirements laid out in this Code.




Here are some simple steps to reduce the risk of Carbon Monoxide Exposure;


  1. Assure that all combustion equipment is maintained and properly adjusted, repair any leaks in the flue system immediately
  2. Operate fuel powered equipment outdoors
  3. Manage Vehicle use adjacent to building and in vocational spaces
  4. Additional ventilation can be used as a temporary measure
  5. Open Flues when using Fireplaces
  6. Do not idle vehicles indoors
  7. Provide exhaust fans vent to the outside over stoves
  8. Purchase vented space heaters (replace unvented Heaters)
  9. Use proper fuel in Kerosene space heaters
  10. Properly size and locate all wood stoves


A level as low as 0.003% of Carbon Monoxide can begin to cause physiological damage  in the Human body and levels as low as 0.2% can cause death if exposed to long enough. The technology exists and the building codes have worked hard to address it; so be ready to apply it.





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