Carbon monoxide alarms


Appliances fuelled with gas, oil, kerosene, or wood may produce Carbon Monoxide (CO). If such appliances are not installed, maintained, and used properly, CO may accumulate to dangerous and even deadly levels in homes, cars or poorly ventilated areas.

Which carbon monoxide alarm should I buy?

Audible* carbon monoxide alarms come in many varieties and are manufactured by a wide range of companies. They are also sold in many retail outlets including DIY/hardware stores, online sales, supermarkets and trade retail stores.

*Audible alarms give an instant warning of dangerous carbon monoxide levels. The use of “Black Spot labels/cards” is not recommended.

Do I need an alarm and is it a legal requirement?

Carbon monoxide alarms are a mandatory requirement for all homes where a new fossil fuel appliance is installed in Northern Ireland, after a change to The Building Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 came into operation on 31 October 2012.

HSENI strongly recommends the use of audible Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarms as a useful back-up precaution. They must however not be regarded as a substitute for proper installation and maintenance of your fuel burning appliances. You can be particularly at risk from CO poisoning when you are asleep, because you may not be aware of early CO symptoms until it is too late. Having an audible CO alarm could wake you and save your life.

What should I look for when buying an alarm?

Before purchasing a carbon monoxide alarm, always ensure it complies with British Standard EN 50291 and carries a British or European approval mark, such as a CE or Kitemark. Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed, checked and serviced in line with the manufacturer's instructions. Particular attention should be given to the life span of the unit which can range from one to six years dependant on the manufacturer and the expected life span of the batteries; some have replaceable/removable units, others are sealed in for the life of the unit.

Where should I fit the alarm?

Always read the manufacturer's instructions for the correct and safe location for installation of the alarm. It is not possible to give specific guidance on the exact location of a detector/s which suits all types of premises and their usage. It should be noted that carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air therefore fitting carbon monoxide alarms at low level is not recommended.

What should I do once the alarm is fitted?

Routine procedures recommended by the manufacturer (including testing) should be in the instructions supplied with the unit and should always be followed. Any alarms failing a routine test should be returned to the installer or supplier, or be replaced. Never cover or paint over alarms once installed.

Always test your carbon monoxide alarm to the manufacturer's instructions.

Landlord/tenant responsibilities

Landlords and tenants both have responsibilities to ensure the safety of their premises.

When it comes to carbon monoxide safety and the law, it depends on what type of fuel you have. More detailed information can be found under resources but as a general rule:

  • landlords are always responsible for gas and electrical appliances
  • a tenancy agreement can stipulate repairing responsibilities
  • repairs must be carried out within a reasonable time




Key legislation

Please note that these links are to the original legislation, visitors should verify for themselves whether legislation is in force or whether it has been amended or repealed by subsequent legislation.