Sparks Fire Departments Project Safe offers free Smoke Detectors

Home Inspector with Certified Structure Inspector IOS #1730, EA #30

In a recent tragedy two teenagers died in an apartment fire in Reno. The Fire Department stated that the smoke detector didn’t contain a working battery. Death from fire can be prevented and a working smoke detector is essential to the safety of the people inside. Fire spreads fast and the smoke detector can provide notice before it’s too late. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths in 2005-2009 were in homes with no smoke detectors or no working smoke detectors. About 25% of the smoke detectors that fail to work have dead batteries.

During a Home Inspection I always check the accessible smoke detectors. I also comment in my report that the buyers should change the batteries and test them again when they move in. I also suggest smoke detectors be replaced if they are more than 10 years old. They do have a life span and you don’t want to find out its bad when you need it.

In the past one smoke detector was required usually at the hall to the bedrooms. Something is better than nothing but the more the merrier.

Where to put a smoke detector

  • on the ceiling or wall outside of each separate sleeping area in the vicinity of bedrooms;
  • in each bedroom, as most fires occur during sleeping hours;
  • in the basement, preferably on the ceiling near the basement stairs;
  • in the garage, due to all the combustible materials commonly stored there; 
  • on the ceiling or on the wall with the top of the detector between 6 to 12 inches from the ceiling; and/or
  • in each story within a building, including basements and cellars, but not crawlspaces or uninhabited attics.

From Smoke Alarm Inspection - InterNACHI


Where not to place a smoke detector

  • near heating or air-conditioning supply and return vents;
  • near a kitchen appliance;
  • near windows, ceiling fans or bathrooms equipped with a shower or tub;
  • where ambient conditions, including humidity and temperature, are outside the limits specified by the manufacturer's instructions;
  • within unfinished attics or garages, or in other spaces where temperatures can rise or fall beyond the limits set by the manufacturer;
  • where the mounting surface could become considerably warmer or cooler than the rest of the room, such as an inadequately insulated ceiling below an unfinished attic; or
  • in dead-air spots, such as the top of a peaked roof or a ceiling-to-wall corner.

From Smoke Alarm Inspection - InterNACHI


If you live in the City of Sparks a new program offers you a free Smoke Detector from the Sparks Fire Department and they will even install it. For information on this program and more fire safety information ilook at the Sparks Fire Department Project Safe page below.

Comments (2)

Joanne Crum
Rhodes & Co Real Estate - Southern Pines, NC
Your Ft. Bragg Connection

This is great information regarding smoke detectors! I didn't realize that smoke detectors had a life span. I guess I probably need to check mine. :)

Mar 11, 2012 02:10 PM
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor

Joanne, They are pretty cheap way to save lives.

Mar 11, 2012 03:19 PM