TIP OF THE MONTH - October 2013

Carbon Monoxide
Source: Property Management for Dummies
             By Robert Griswold

Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas produced when fuel burns incompletely, can quickly build up in a rental unit in just hours.  If the leak occurs when the tenants are asleep, they could easily lose consciousness and suffer a serious injury or even die before noticing anything was wrong.

Appliances such as natural gas and oil furnaces, gas water heaters, wood burning stoves, fireplaces and gas or kerosene space heaters can all emit carbon monoxide.  When these appliances are working properly, the carbon monoxide is vented to the chimney or other venting system and there is no danger.  However, if the appliances or fireplace are not vented properly, then carbon monoxide can build up within a rental unit.

Naturally, carbon monoxide poisoning is a particular concern for rental owners with properties in cold weather areas of the country where tenants rely on one of these appliances to heat their rental unit.  Carbon monoxide detectors are only legally required in certain areas; however, installing a carbon monoxide detector if your rental unit has a fireplace or uses carbon monoxide-producing heating appliances is suggested,  even if you don’t have your manager/maintenance person look out for any tenant misuse of a portable gas or kerosene heater because they are the major cause of carbon monoxide poisonings and death.

Take steps to have a professional from your oil or natural gas supplier inspect all heating systems annually in the fall.  If they do not offer these services, hire a professional heating appliance repair company.  If you have fireplaces, you need to have a chimney cleaning company periodically inspect your chimney, chimney connections, and insulation for cracks, blockages, or leaks.  Have any recommended work done as soon as possible and quickly respond to any complaints from tenant about possible carbon monoxide poisoning. 

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This web page was updated on 09/25/2013.