Carbon Monoxide

Ontario is taking another step to keep families and homes in Ontario safe by making carbon monoxide alarms mandatory in all residential homes.   More than 50 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning in Canada, including 11 on average in Ontario.  The Ontario Building Code requires the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in homes and other residential buildings built after 2001.
The new regulation, which came into effect October 15, 2014, carbon monoxide alarm are now required near all sleeping areas in existing residential homes that have an attached storage garage and/or fuel burning appliance and in the service rooms and not throughout the entire home. Carbon monoxide alarms can be hardwired, battery-operated or plugged into the wall.

Since carbon monoxide moves freely in the air, the suggested location is in or as near as possible to sleeping areas of the home. The human body is most vulnerable to the effects of carbon monoxide during sleeping hours. To work properly the unit must not be blocked by furniture or draperies. Carbon Monoxide is virtually the same weight as air and therefore the alarm protects you in a high (ceiling) or low (outlet receptacle) location.  For maximum protection, a carbon monoxide alarm should be located outside primary sleeping areas, in sleeping areas and in each level of your home.​

Check the expiry date of existing CO alarms, and replace any devices built before 2008.  CO alarms need to be replaced every 7-10 years depending on the brand.  New units will have an expiry date on them.  Replace batteries in your CO alarm annually, or opt for models with 10-year sealed lithium batteries that never need to be changed.

Why Should I Care About Carbon Monoxide?
It Kills.  Many Canadians die every year from carbon monoxide poisoning in their own homes, most of them while sleeping.

It Injures. Hundreds of Canadians are hospitalized every year from carbon monoxide poisoning, many of whom are permanently disabled.  Everyone is at Risk - 88% of all homes have something that poses a carbon monoxide threat.
Carbon Monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless, toxic gas that enters the body through the lungs during the normal breathing process.  It replaces oxygen in the blood and prevents the flow of oxygen to the heart, brain and other vital organs.

Where does Carbon Monoxide Come From?
Produced when carbon-based fuels are incompletely burned such as:
Wood     Propane      Natural Gas      Heating Oil     Coal     Kerosene     Charcoal     Gasoline

What Are the Main Sources of Carbon Monoxide in my Home?
Home gas furnace, wood burning/gas stoves or grills, gas/charcoal barbeques, gasoline engines, gas hot water heaters, gas boilers, decorative fireplace, kerosene space heaters, automobile, lawnmower, snowblower, and others

How Can I Tell if There is a Carbon Monoxide Leak in my Home?

  • Headache, nausea, burning eyes, fainting, confusion, drowsiness.
  • Often mistaken for common ailments like the flu
  • Symptoms improve when away from the home for a period of time
  • Symptoms experienced by more than one member of the household.
  • Continued exposure to higher levels may result in unconscious, brain damage and death.
  • The elderly, children and people with heart or respiratory conditions may be particularly sensitive to carbon monoxide.


  • Air feels stale/stuffy
  • Excessive moisture on windows or walls
  • Sharp penetrating odour or smell of gas when furnace or other fuel burning appliance turns on.
  • Burning and pilot light flames are yellow/orange, not blue
  • Pilot light on the furnace or water heater goes out
  • Chalky white powder or soot build up occurs around exhaust vent or chimney.

How Can I protect Myself and my Family?

  • Regularly maintained appliances that are properly ventilated should not produce hazardous levels of carbon monoxide
  • Have a licenced technician inspect your fuel burning appliances (re. furnace, range, fireplace, water heater) annually, to ensure they are in proper working order and vented correctly.
  • Have you chimney inspected and cleaned every year by a W.E.T.T. certified professional.
  • Be sure your carbon monoxide alarm has been certified to the Canadian Standards.
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm in or near the sleeping area(s) of the home.

What Should I Do if my Carbon Monoxide Alarm Starts Beeping?
To Keep Safe Please Remember:You have a responsibility to know about the dangers of carbon monoxide. Your knowledge and actions may save lives.
A carbon monoxide alarm is a good second line of defense. It is not a substitute for the proper care and maintenance of your fuel burning appliance(s).  Take the time to learn about the use of carbon monoxide alarms in your home to ensure you are using the equipment properly and effectively.