Carbon Monoxide Alarm Sounded

Hi folks,

Got a message from my tenant this morning that both CO2 alarms in the house went off last night. Fire dept was called and they found 60 ppm upstairs. They also took a measurement outside and found it clean. They advised my tenants to leave the house which they did, and to have the gas utility inspect.

So here’s the thing: The townhouse is all electric. No gas or propane. I called the local gas utility and they refused to come out and inspect because they don’t have a gasline within 2 miles of the house. There’s a couple propane tanks nearby for neighboring complexes but the FD found no outside CO2.

There is a fireplace in the house. I asked if they used it last night and they said yes. I also noticed today that the flue was closed. I asked the tenant about it she said her husband takes care of that and that she didnt know when he closed it. Havnt spoken with him yet. So I think he closed it and went to bed and there were some embers that were still burning which caused the CO2 to leak into the house. CO2 rises with warm air so it makes sense that it would concentrate upstairs.

I stopped by the FD and they agreed with me when they learned there was no gas in the house. I actually spoke with a guy that was on the call.

My tenant is still freaked out which I understand but dont know what else to do. I will have the fireplace inspected and cleaned. I’m looking for advice as to what else I should do to:

a. keep them safe
b. make them feel safe
c. cover my butt

Thanks for reading my long story.


I would never let a tenant light a fire.

HPM is right … Permanently seal the fireplace so it can’ be used. The tenant has already demonstrated they are incapable of using it safely.

I agree with sealing off the fireplaces, but within reason.

With lower income properties, which in Dallas is pretty much any sort of townhome or house rental (that excludes apartments or small condos that are “nice” and in a good part of town) at $800 or less, I would seal off the fireplace. The lower income tenants tend to be less educated and experiened in life, and tend to do more dumb things like leave the fireplace closed or throw gas on the fireplace (IT HAPPENS!)

With middle and especially upper income properties, I would NOT think about sealing off the fireplace. In Dallas if your rent is $1600 a month, which that is on the upper end of my rental property portfolio rate here, sealing off the fireplace would not only look bad on such a property it would turn off potential renters.

The tenants are middle class educated people (she’s an elementary school teacher) in a nice middle class neighborhood but young and obviously not rocket scientists.

I do consider the fireplace a selling point. Many people comment on it when looking at the house, however when they move in they don’t use it much, until these tenants.

I’m looking at this as a customer service situation at this point. I know it was their fault and they are realizing that too so I don’t want to punish them. I just want to be stern with them about the cause and for them to be satisfied rent paying customers moving forward.

I am felling the same. I think, you have to talk to them on this matter but in a natural way so that they didn’t feel embarrass when you discuss it with them.
This is not a big issue that can’t be solved. It just happened accidentally. Make them feel free to talk on this matter. I think, this will work out.