An agent called me recently to complain about my report and among other things she said, "I have never heard other inspectors say to replace old smoke detectors."
It was actually more than that. She actually said she had been on many, many home inspections and had never heard a home inspector say such a thing before, and was trying to slight me by making it appear that I do not know what I'm talking about.
Slighting me doesn't work on me.
That softball could have been hit a long way by suggesting she change home inspectors, but I held my tongue.
Instead I asked her if she read the link on my report before calling? (Click here) "No." That was a blog I wrote many years ago on AR and it fully explains why. But why read it when other inspectors don't say such things?
That was not the real reason she called. Getting to the nub of the call, she was REALLY complaining that my report does not tell her what things to ask of the sellers, on behalf of her clients. Her "other inspector" makes a list for her. My report is, in her words, "hard to follow," because there is no such list! In other words, like not wanting to take the time to read or think about my blog, she similarly does not want to take the time to read and think about the report as regards her clients.
A home inspection report is NOT a punch-out list! But that is another story altogether.
But let's revisit the smoke detector replacement suggestion.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has specific criteria as regards smoke detectors - their maintenance and replacement. They say every 10 years, max. Some manufacturers recommend that their detectors be replaced in seven years. It is a Best Practice.
Because components fail. You can push the test button on an old detector and it might sound.
BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN IT DETECTS SMOKE OR FIRE!
And the Consumer Products Safety Commission, in conjunction with the NFPA, and after much testing, further says in this 2012 article that the failure of any component almost always means the complete failure of the detector.
When do components fail? About 10 years. After 10 years failure rates increase dramatically.
The home above was built in 1987. The smoke detectors sure looked original! And one was so yellow they painted it to make it look new! That is another huge no-no! This is a major safety issue! Why argue with the home inspector about what is an obvious safety issue?
My recommendation: the home inspector's job is to observe and report. The home inspection report is NOT a punch-out list. It is a snapshot of the house on the day examined. It includes many particular things! And when my client's safety comes into play, I am even more particular. Safety issues always appear as BOLD items on my report. They are bold for a reason. Smoke detectors are a huge safety issue when older. It is both circumspect and prudent to replace them! And if your home inspector has never said such a thing before, consider finding and recommending one who is more informed...
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia