NEWS

Eagle requires carbon monoxide detectors

Date: Apr. 2nd, 2009
Contact: Pam Boyd

Eagle's new building code requires carbon monoxide detectors, more insulation

EAGLE, Colorado — The words 'additional government regulation' raise hackles for many citizens but if anyone needs a testimonial regarding the town of Eagle, Colorado's new carbon monoxide detector rules, just give Ron Beard a call.

A number of years ago, the Beard family was irritated when a detector in their home kept sounding. They didn’t smell anything and their home was relatively new, so the Beards just thought they had a faulty carbon monoxide detector. But to be on the safe side, they decided to have their home checked out.

“The police department told us if we had fallen asleep, especially the kids wouldn’t have woken up,” says Beard. “We were really thankful that we had the detectors and we listened to them.”

Today, the Beards have multiple carbon monoxide detectors in their home and because of the town’s newly adopted building code, so will all new homeowners in Eagle.

Last month, the Eagle Town Board adopted the 2006 international building code. The new rules will take effect on April 18 and one of the biggest changes is the carbon monoxide detector requirement. Eagle will now require that all new homes, additions or remodels include the detectors outside bedrooms and on each level of the house.

“It’s really a basic health and safety issue,” Eagle building inspector Bob Kohrmann says, “and you can get carbon monoxide detectors that cost anywhere from $20 to $75.”

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas, Kohrmann says.

“You don’t even know you are in it,” he says.

After prolonged exposure, victims begin to feel flu-like symptoms and become tired. Tragically, victims often fall asleep and their exposure then reaches lethal levels. That’s what happened in December to the Lofgren family during a visit to Aspen.

The Lofgrens — Parker and Caroline and their children Owen and Sophie — were found in their beds and investigators theorized the family just went to sleep and never woke up. The source of the carbon monoxide turnout out to be a broken pipe in a crawl space under the multimillion-dollar home where the Lofgrens were staying. There were no detectors in the home.

In the wake of the Lofgren tragedy, the Colorado Legislature has passed a law requiring carbon monoxide detectors in new residential and rental properties.

“This will have a big effect on the whole state because every apartment manager will have to be putting them in, as well as everyone who has rental properties,” says Russ Johnson, owner of Mountain Top Enterprises an Eagle-based security business that sells carbon monoxide detectors.

Johnson said the new rules eventually will effect real estate contracts and title company procedures and people. At this point, however, he questions whether people really understand the far-reaching effect of the change.

On the other hand, he also noted that detectors are easily installed and come in both plug-in and battery operated models.

Eagle’s new code also requires more energy efficient insulation in new construction.

The new code calls for R-58 insulation in roofs and R. 21 insulation in walls. Those are increased from the previous requirements of R-38 in roofs and R-19 in walls. The R-value is a measure of the ability of the insulation to prevent heat loss in the winter or heat gain in the summer. The higher the R-value, the better the insulation.

“The requirements should not result in increased insulation cost of more than 20 cents per square foot in the roof and 6 cents more per square foot in the walls,” said Roman Yavich, planning intern for the town.

Town board members note a home insulation investment will provide rapid payback and energy cost savings over the life of the dwelling.

In addition to the energy efficiency payback associated with the insulation requirements, Kohrmann is hopeful Eagle residents will see other financial benefits from the town’s new code adoption.

Insurance Service Office, or ISO ratings, are a national standard used to determine insurance premiums. With the changes, the town is hopeful it can improve its ISO rating and thus enable residents to get better home insurance pricing.

“We lose points if we don’t stay up-to-date with current codes,” Kohrmann says.