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Quick Guide: Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors

deeproot May 1, 2017

Real Estate

Quick Guide: Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors

This may not be the most thrilling step in selling your house, but it’s absolutely necessary. You won’t be able to transfer the deed to the buyer if your home doesn’t meet ORS (Oregon Revised Statutes) laws. We get asked about this topic quite a bit and it’s a good idea to take care of it right away. Here is what you’ll need to do in order to meet ORS smoke alarm laws.

Where do I need to install alarms?

The state of Oregon requires smoke alarms or detectors on every level of your home, in all bedrooms and in all hallways giving access to bedrooms, but there are a couple of stipulations depending on the layout of your home.

The ORS states:

Where sleeping areas are located on an upper level, the smoke alarm or smoke detector shall be installed in an accessible location as close as practical to the center of the ceiling directly over the stairway. Where sleeping areas are widely separated (i.e., on different levels or opposite ends of the dwelling unit) and/or where a single smoke alarm or smoke detector will not adequately service all sleeping areas, a smoke alarm or smoke detector shall be installed adjacent to each sleeping area. (ORS 837-045-0050)​

  • ​​Outside bedrooms within 21 feet of all bedroom doors.
  • On each level of the home (including the basement).
  • In bedrooms, if required by state building code at the time of construction.
  • All smoke alarms are to be installed according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

You do not need to install alarms in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and unheated areas where moisture, steam, frost, cooking vapors, and exhaust fumes could cause a nuisance alarm.

If you’d like to install a smoke alarm in your kitchen, the ORS recommends installing one at least 10 feet away from cooking appliances. You should also pick up a detector with a hush or photoelectric feature.

If you’re wondering where on the wall to actually hang your alarms, this article by The National Fire Protection Agency does a great job of explaining ideal placement. They cover all types of home layouts from pitched ceilings to basements.

What kind of alarms should I install?

ORS doesn’t require a certain kind of smoke alarm, but there are several varieties including ionization, photoelectric and combination alarms. Ionization alarms protect better against visible flames while photoelectric alarms are more sensitive to smoldering fires.  

The Oregon State Fire Marshall made up this handy chart explaining different options.

Do I need carbon monoxide detectors?

You do not need to install CO alarms unless your home has a CO source. The ORS describes a source as follows:

A heater, fireplace, appliance (i.e., furnace, dryer, or water heater), or cooking source (i.e., stove, oven) that uses coal, kerosene, petroleum products, wood, or other fuels (i.e., oil or natural gas) that emit CO as a by-product of combustion; or an attached garage with an opening that communicates directly with a living space. (OAR 837-047-0110)

You’ll need install CO alarms each level of your home with bedrooms. The alarm cannot be more than 15 feet away from any bedroom door or you’ll need an additional one.

There are plenty of smoke/CO combination alarms available, so you shouldn’t have any trouble killing two birds with one stone. See the image at the top of this article for ideal placements of CO and smoke alarms.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. You can also consult the ORS website below.

Drew Coleman Realtor Website


ORS Smoke Alarm Information Center

ORS Carbon Monoxide Alarm Center

Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue

The National Fire Protection Agency

Opt for Excellence.

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