The Christmas Day fire in Stamford, CT serves as a tragic reminder to test the smoke detectors in our homes. I know this topic has been covered many times but when it comes to smoke alarms the more reminders the better the chance of keeping occupants safe.
I inspected a large 2 story home yesterday. The home was still decorated and had not one but two ten foot tall real Christmas trees beautifully decorated on the main floor. The house had 4 bedrooms on the second floor and 2 on the main floor. The home was occupied and the sellers were home while I conducted the inspection. (So were the five friends and family members visiting from out of town.) The home was in beautiful condition with no major issues. But when I tested the smoke alarm in the first bedroom it did not respond when I pressed the test button. Neither did the alarm in the 2nd bedroom. Or the third. Or the upstairs hallway. When all was said and done 7 of the 8 smoke alarms in this home did not respond when the test buttons were pressed. When I showed this to the seller he was completely surprised. He told me that he changed all of the batteries in the alarms in October when they put this house on the market. And all of the alarms worked when he pressed the test buttons after he changed the batteries.
The seller was on the phone immediately calling his electrician as we suspected a problem with the smoke detector wiring. Nine people staying in this home with two live Christmas trees and smoke detectors that did not work. All the ingredients for another potential tragedy. Fortunately this problem was caught and was corrected without any problems.
Do me a favor. When you get home today stop what you are doing and test your smoke alarms. Press the test button to see if the alarm sounds. Better yet, stop by your local hardware store of choice and pick up a can of Smoke Detector Tester. This aerosol spray simulates actual smoke so you will know for sure that your alarms are working properly. Even if you have recently changed the batteries get in the habit of testing the alarms every month. As a Home Inspector in Mesa, Arizona I can’t stress the importance of smoke detectors enough.
Here’s to a very safe and prosperous 2012!