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A Call to Alarms

A Call to Alarms


While the title of this post may be a play on words, the subject is no joke.  The villain goes by the moniker "The Silent Killer," and he potentially has access to both your home and mine.  As a California mortgage professional, carbon monoxide poisoning is a real issue for me because if a home is not suitably outfitted with the alarms that detect this threat, we can be virtually certain we are going to have problems during the loan process and when the appraisal comes in.


SB183, the Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Prevention Act, went into effect on July 1, 2011, yet we still come across homes on both the purchase and refinance side that lack CO detectors.  No matter how often we remind listing agents to assure their homes are adequately equipped, we still get reports back that indicate their absence.  Some time ago, I even convinced our appraisal management company (AMC) to change the language of the appraisal order e-mail to include, prominently in bold red font, that carbon monoxide detectors must be installed prior to inspection.  


But I write this post not because I wish to chastise the oversights of Realtors and homeowners.  For me, the paradigm on this matter has shifted.  I used to see just the nuisance component of SB183 ---- appraisal reinspections, additional costs and process delays.  I used to view this as just another fabricated regulation, another law, another hindrance.  But now, it's personal and I view it as a call to arms.  If my clients are living, or going to live, in any dwelling, they must protect against this threat.  I can be a foot soldier in the war and can take up arms as well.  Here is my ammunition, courtesy of the Novato Fire Prevention District:


About CO Alarms

  • CO alarms should be installed outside each sleeping area.  Install alarms on every level of the home.  
  • Follow the instructions on the package to properly install the CO alarm.
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month.
  • Know the sound the CO alarm makes and learn to distinguish this from smoke alarms and/or the sound these detectors make when the battery is low.
  • If the CO alarm sounds, you MUST get fresh air.  Do not re-enter the premises until cleared by emergency personnel.


How to Prevent CO Poisoning

  • When warming a vehicle, move it out of the garage.  Do not run a fueled engine indoors, even if garage doors are open.
  • Clear all debris from dryer, furnace, stove and fireplace vents.
  • Generators should be used outdoors.
  • Gas and charcoal grills can produce CO.  Only use them outside.
  • Have heating equipment and chimneys inspected by a professional every year before cold weather sets in.
  • Open the damper when using a fireplace.
  • Never use your oven or stove to heat your home.


Signs and Symptoms of CO Poisoning

  • Most common symptoms of CO poisoning are headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.
  • High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death.
  • People who are sleeping or intoxicated can die from CO poisoning before ever experiencing symptoms.


As real estate professionals, CO poisoning is an enemy we can defeat together, for the benefit of our clients and ourselves.  Instead of viewing the installation of detectors as a huge pain, let's change our stance and view its fix as an inexpensive, simple and immutable fact of real property transactions in California. 


Stay safe out there,



Rob Spinosa
Mortgage Loan Originator
NMLS: 22343 CalBRE: 01297944
Cell: 415-367-5959 Fax: 415-366-1590
rspinosa@rpm-mtg.com www.rpm-mtg.com/rspinosa 
1058 Redwood Highway, Frontage Road, Mill Valley, CA 94941


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RPM Mortgage, Inc. – NMLS#9472 – Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the Residential Mortgage Lending Act. Equal Housing Opportunity.




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