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Smoke detector replacement--recommended interval?


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In my report verbiage, I use 7 years or whenever a home is sold. I think CO detectors have a 5-7 year lifespan.

If a person cooks a great deal with oil/grease/lard/ etc.... or is a smoker the lifespan(of the detector [;)]) is cut in half. So it makes only perfect sense to recommend replacement when a home is sold. Why risk it for a few dollars per unit.

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If the home is changing hands, I always tell everyone to install brand new devices, everywhere.

If it's someone just asking me about smoke detectors, I tell them to install brand new devices everywhere.

Who can tell accurately how old a detector is and what use conditions it's been exposed to?

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Present.

On homes where the age of the detectors cannot be determined, I recommend replacing all smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. The National Fire Protection Association Smoke Alarm Safety Tips recommends replacing smoke detectors every 10 years and carbon monoxide detectors every 5 years.

I don't test smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors. Pushing the built-in test button does not ensure that the smoke sensor is functional. It only establishes that the electrical circuit and audible alarm are functional.

Replacement smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, when necessary, should be installed, in the quantity necessary, to comply with the manufacturer's instructions.

I also recommend that you review the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) document "Protect Your Family and Yourself from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning" on the EPA website at: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pdfs/co_factsheet_en.pdf

Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are NOT tested as part of the Home Inspection. The batteries in all smoke detectors should be changed upon moving into the home. All smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors should be tested by the home owner upon moving in and on a regular basis thereafter (see manufacturer's instructions for testing intervals). These are important safety devices. If they fail to operate, have them fixed or replaced. Hard wired smoke detectors should be repaired by an alarm qualified licensed electrician.

More than one working smoke alarm is essential in every household. It is necessary to practice home fire drills and escape plans to be certain everyone is familiar with the smoke alarm signal, and to determine if there are any obstacles to a quick and safe evacuation (including the inability for some to awaken to the smoke alarm signal).

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Present.

I don't test smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors. Pushing the built-in test button does not ensure that the smoke sensor is functional. It only establishes that the electrical circuit and audible alarm are functional.

Where is this from?

The NFPA and the manufacturers say to press the button to test if it's working. You are saying that pressing the button doesn't test if it is functional, yet you link the NFPA and say follow the manufacturer's instructions for testing.

That's pretty confusing.

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I stopped pushing the buttons on any of them about 7 years ago after I had the local fire department dispatch, roll with sirens to the home I was inspecting at the time. Happened 3 different times over the course of one year.

One time I held face down on kitchen counter with hands about to be cuffed until I finally got the authorities to understand I was not stealing anything.

At the time my truck had signs and everything.

All due to the alarms being tied into a home security system that was active.

Two of the homes were vacant.

Then there was the back/forth about who was going to pay for the "false alarm" call.

Quick decision for me to 'never again' push those buttons.

I have to disclaim same here in Texas as TREC "requires" via the SOP that we have to push them as well.

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The alarm is the audible signal and blinking lights or the call to the monitoring company if it is part of a security system. The devices we are concerned with are detectors.

Smokes and COs are the law in NY, but I have yet to find a house that had all of the required units and several with none at all.

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Tell them to toss their ionization alarms in the trash and put up new photoelectric alarms. If they're solely battery powered, get the ones with 10 year batteries. Don't believe all that crap about how one kind is better for this and another kind is better for that. Photoelectrics work better. Ionizations work worse.

Most alarms have the date stamped on the back. They should be replaced every 10 years. If there's any doubt, just replace them. They're cheap.

The test button is actually a pretty good test of the device. If you choose to not test smoke alarms for liability reasons, that's fine. But if your rationalization is that the button isn't a "true" test, that's not a very good argument.

Smoke "detectors" are generally part of central alarm systems. They just "detect" and the rest of the system takes care of calling the cops to cuff Nolan & so on.

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I stopped pushing the buttons on any of them about 7 years ago after I had the local fire department dispatch, roll with sirens to the home I was inspecting at the time. Happened 3 different times over the course of one year.

One time I held face down on kitchen counter with hands about to be cuffed until I finally got the authorities to understand I was not stealing anything.

At the time my truck had signs and everything.

All due to the alarms being tied into a home security system that was active.

Two of the homes were vacant.

Then there was the back/forth about who was going to pay for the "false alarm" call.

Quick decision for me to 'never again' push those buttons.

I have to disclaim same here in Texas as TREC "requires" via the SOP that we have to push them as well.

Were all 3 systems being monotored by the same company? The reason I ask is I've never heard of that happening, so maybe it was a local issue with the way the security systems were being installed. It seams resonable that a smoke detector could be tested without alerting the security company. I've set off a few alarms and had cops show up (just happened last week) but not due to testing a smoke detector.

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From the Windsor Fire site.

A smoke alarm is an all-in-one, self-contained device, with a detector, which senses the products of combustion (smoke) and sounds an audible, and sometimes visual warning or alarm. Smoke alarms are widely used in residential settings. Put simply, a smoke alarm detects smoke and sounds an alarm.

A smoke detector is strictly a sensing device only, which senses the products of combustion (smoke) and sends a signal to a building?s fire alarm system to activate an audible, and sometimes visual warning or alarm. Smoke detectors must be connected to a building?s fire alarm system and are NOT a stand-alone unit. Put simply, a smoke detector senses smoke only and must be connected to a fire alarm system control panel. Smoke detectors are a detection device only ? not an alarm.

http://www.usfa.fema.gov/campaigns/smok ... index.shtm

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I feel like such an idiot for calling them SDs in my original post, when they clearly are not. How I've gotten through life to this point I don't know...

Don't feel too bad. At least one major home inspector organization - I won't say which, but its initials are ASHI - calls them smoke detectors in their standard of practice.

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I stopped pushing the buttons on any of them about 7 years ago after I had the local fire department dispatch, roll with sirens to the home I was inspecting at the time. Happened 3 different times over the course of one year.

One time I held face down on kitchen counter with hands about to be cuffed until I finally got the authorities to understand I was not stealing anything.

At the time my truck had signs and everything.

All due to the alarms being tied into a home security system that was active.

Two of the homes were vacant.

Then there was the back/forth about who was going to pay for the "false alarm" call.

Quick decision for me to 'never again' push those buttons.

I have to disclaim same here in Texas as TREC "requires" via the SOP that we have to push them as well.

Were all 3 systems being monotored by the same company? The reason I ask is I've never heard of that happening, so maybe it was a local issue with the way the security systems were being installed. It seams resonable that a smoke detector could be tested without alerting the security company. I've set off a few alarms and had cops show up (just happened last week) but not due to testing a smoke detector.

I had none at the time nor do I have any clue. When you walk in to inspect a home do you know if the home security system is active and doing all the possible things it can do?

I didn't (at the time) and I don't have (today) any way to find that out before I inspect a property.

I err on the side of safety (after my experience) and assume that the site is live and being monitored ... if there is a security system installed.

.

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Is there a standard recommendation for replacement of typical builder-grade AC-powered battery-backup SDs?

I follow the NFPA recommendations for replacement when the house is transferred.

I therefore rarely test any smoke alarms because they are deficient by definition.

Why test something I tell them to replace?

The few exceptions would be new construction but even then I sometimes don't test because of a deficiency.

Just yesterday, I was in a new construction home without the "shower caps" even though they were still doing drywall, texture work and painting.

The filter and return grills were filthy with construction dust.

I recommended cleaning by the manufacturers instructions and testing following.

Smoke alarms are generally a pain in the rear with no real upside to testing since it does little to ensure future effectiveness. REPLACE, REPLACE, REPLACE! It is cheap life insurance.

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FWIW I asked this question because a client of mine called and asked if I could send someone to change the batteries in all of his alarms... large house, probably a dozen of them, many up high. I know they are several years old. Based on comments here I told him to count them up and I would send an electrician out with that many new units. No point in all that ladder setup to change batteries on old units.

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