Reuben's Home Inspection Blog


Carbon monoxide alarm requirements for Minnesota, including the little details


Carbon monoxide alarms are required in just about every type of dwelling in Minnesota, and it's been this way for several years now, but there is still a lot of confusion about this requirement. 

General Requirement  - This text comes directly from Minnesota Statute 299F.50:

Every single family dwelling and every dwelling unit in a multifamily dwelling must have an approved and operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within ten feet of each room lawfully used for sleeping purposes.

One and one half story houses: a carbon monoxide alarm installed on the first floor within ten feet of the stairway to the second floor does not count as being installed within ten feet of the second floor bedroom.  The second floor bedroom will generally begin at the top of the stairway, not the bottom.

What constitutes ten feet:   Measure from the door of the sleeping room to the carbon monoxide alarm.  If you have to pass through a wall, floor, ceiling, or doorway with a door that can be closed, it doesn't count.

How this law gets enforced: For the most part, it doesn't.  Building inspection departments may notify homeowners that carbon monoxide alarms are requires, but the intent of this law wasn't to make building inspection departments enforce carbon monoxide alarms (although many still do).   The exception to this is Minneapolis and South Saint Paul; both of those cities require carbon monoxide alarms for their Truth-in-Sale of Housing programs.  

Definition of "installed": this text comes directly from the Minnesota statute:

 "Installed" means that an approved carbon monoxide alarm is hard-wired into the electrical wiring, directly plugged into an electrical outlet without a switch, or, if the alarm is battery powered, attached to the wall of the dwelling.

While the official definition doesn't mention mounting the detector on the ceiling, that's ok too. If a carbon monoxide alarm is sitting on someone's desk, it's not installed.  I've actually had several homeowners try to convince me otherwise.  

When to replace: Approximately 99.3% of the CO alarms that I come across are made by Kidde or First Alert.  Kidde CO alarms last seven years, while First Alert CO alarms last five years.  You won't find that information published on either of their web sites though; you actually need to call them to get that info.

Where to mount carbon monoxide alarms: follow the installation instructions from the manufacturer.  In general, carbon monoxide alarms can be mounted high or low on the walls, as long as children can't mess with them.

CO Alarm

The CO alarm pictured above was actually hanging from a cable jack on the wall of a kid's toy room; I'd consider that a poor location.


Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


Comment balloon 7 commentsReuben Saltzman • May 10 2011 06:34AM


"Every single family dwelling and every dwelling unit in a multifamily dwelling"

Interesting.  Does this also apply to all electric properties???

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) about 8 years ago

Hello Rueben, glad to see you back. It's some really interesting info for the state of Minnesota.

These are the types of laws we need "nation wide"

Good post.

CLint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) about 8 years ago

Love that installation on the cable jack. How would any one think the detector will work facing the wall.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) about 8 years ago


Them darn things are almost a foreign object out here. Almost everyone here ha appliances that are electric (ah the beauty of dams). You may have a propane gas stove or fireplace. Out in the sticks you may have a wood burning device. But that is about it.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago

Lenn - for single family homes, yes, this requirement still applies even if it's all electric.  There are a few exceptions for multi-family dwellings, but the bottom line is that the state still wants 'em installed.

Clint - thanks!  I'm guessing we'll start seeing more and more states with CO alarm requirements.

James - wasn't that cute?

Donald - that electric appliances have to be a lot easier to inspect, huh?

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) about 8 years ago

They're available here but not in widespread use, smoke detectors yes, CO detectors not so much.

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) about 8 years ago

Gotten some sleep I see?    ;>)

What about Virginia!?  What about Virginia!?

Oh, I remember, check my website...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 8 years ago