Smoke and Carbon Monoxide alarms for residential occupancies
Building code requires smoke alarms to be installed in units of residential occupancy. While this is not a new requirement, the requirement for carbon monoxide alarms is: add the additional requirements when dealing with secondary suits, and these codes can be quite confusing.
Today I will explain some of the various requirements for installation of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in the houses. Remember that building codes only apply during construction and the code in force during construction applies. Therefore the 2006 building code will apply to new houses, and houses undergoing major renovations.
The 2006 Building Code states that: (220.127.116.11) smoke alarms shall be installed in each dwelling unit, on each storey, located between bedrooms and the rest of the accommodation, located on or near the ceiling, permanently connected to an electrical circuit, and be interconnected. Additionally: (18.104.22.168.1) each bedroom shall be protected by a smoke alarm inside the bedroom or within 5m of the bedroom door. Also, the distance from any on a floor level to a smoke alarm on the same level shall not exceed 15m. When developing basements, addition of 1 smoke alarm does not require interconnection. If the basement development requires the addition of 2 or more smoke alarms, all NEW smoke alarms shall be interconnected.
Carbon monoxide alarms (22.214.171.124) shall be hard wired and located inside each bedroom or within 5m of each bedroom door. Also, carbon monoxide alarms are required inside any room which holds a carbon fuelled appliance (fireplace).
The Canadian Electrical Code allows for smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms to be wired and interconnected utilizing the same wiring providing the devices are suitable for interconnection. Some manufacturers offer a combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarm which is approved and provides both types of protection for one device.
The requirements for constructing proper secondary suites are now included in the 2006 Building and Fire Codes, I have fielded questions on how to meet the code requirement for interconnected smoke alarms in both suites as well as common areas of the residence for such as laundry room or furnace room. In the case of secondary suites, the requirement for additional smoke alarms is only a small part of the additions needed to make the suite legal. One problem with interconnecting smoke alarms is if the basement suite has a separately metered power supply. In this case, whichever panel is feeding the common areas of the residence is used to supply power to the smoke alarms. Label the devices clearly as to the location of the breaker. Some Safety Codes Officials have been asked to allow wireless smoke alarms to accomplish the need for interconnection I these situations. These alarms are not yet available on the market as a 120 volt hard wired and wireless interconnected alarm. The 9 volt battery type wireless interconnected smoke alarms to do not presently meet the CEC requirement that the smoke alarms be hard wire interconnected. Watch for code changes in these areas.
Safety Tip: Smoke alarms have a 10 year life span. If the alarm is false alarming, try to vacuum it or change the battery if it has one. But if the device is over 10 years old, it must be replaced.
This article is from the Electrical Contractors Association “Contractor” newsletter. The author is Keven Lefebvre.
Electrical Contractors Association www.ecaa.ab.ca