The state of Michigan has carbon monoxide law based on House Bill No. 4730 and House Bill No. 5341. The first law states that buildings constructed on or after December 1, 2009, including boarding houses, hotels, and motels, must install one carbon monoxide detector at each source point. The term “source point” means an area where a machine is present that burns fossil fuels, such as a furnace, hot water heater, or boiler.

The problem with this law is that in big buildings, furnaces, hot water heaters and boilers are usually located far away from where the people are. Carbon monoxide detectors that are near the source, but are removed from where the people are, can’t warn people of the danger. Carbon monoxide detectors should also be placed where the people are.

Sometimes it feels like these laws are written to protect property owners from negligence claims more than to actually protect people from carbon monoxide toxins.

The detector may be battery-operated, plug-in with or without battery backup, wired into the building’s air conditioning system with battery backup, or connected to system via a control panel. The detector’s alarm must also be audible.

The law states that the person who installs the carbon monoxide detector in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions shall have no liability with respect to maintenance or effectiveness of the carbon monoxide device.

The owner of the building who maintains the device according to the manufacturer’s instructions shall have no liability with respect to the operation or effectiveness of the device.

The second law requires a carbon monoxide detector within each single-family dwelling or within each unit of a multi-family dwelling in all new construction. A detector should be located within the vicinity of the bedrooms, which may include a detector capable of detecting CO near all adjacent bedrooms, an area near an attached garage, and an area near fuel-burning appliance.

The law was effective March 23, 2009. People who did not comply should not be penalized until the effective date.

The carbon monoxide detectors must have a distinct, audible alert when carbon monoxide is at higher than normal levels. It may either be self contained or activated via a system connection.

This law is called the “Overbeck Law,” named for Patty and Gene Overbeck, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2003 in their Elk Lake retirement home.

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