Smoking Gun on Smoke Detectors

Home Inspector with NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Smoking Gun on Smoke Detectors

There is a current debate on smoke detectors. I think there should be no debate. The number one issue for occupants in a structural fire is smoke.  So having a smoke alarm that is best at sensing smoke should be the homeowner’s first choice.

The two types of smoke detectors are Photoelectric and Ionization. Photoelectric is more sensitive to the smoke. So this should be your choice for your home.  

Another reason is that many fire safety websites inform us that photoelectric smoke alarms are less prone to nuisance alarms in the kitchen area than ionization smoke alarms.

Here is a investigational video on smoke detectors. Please watch this video and I feel it will help you with your decision.


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Look on the back of you smoke detector and identify the type you have. If it is an ionization smoke detector you should either replace it or supplement it with a photoelectric alarm. Ionization smoke detectors are the most common units found in homes.

Ancora Imparo

NCW Home Inspections, LLC  is a Licensed Washington State Home Inspection service located in Wenatchee Washington serving Chelan County, Douglas County, Kittitas County, Okanogan County and Grant County Washington and the cities of Wenatchee, Leavenworth, Cashmere, Oroville, Cle Elum, East Wenatchee, Quincy and many more…  

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Comments (6)

Steven Cook
No Longer Processing Mortgages. - Tacoma, WA

Don -- thank you for providing this material, and linking in the video clip showing the differences.  This needs to be more widely available, so have suggested, and will be reblogging.

Jan 22, 2013 05:20 AM
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Steven, Thank you. There is a lot of debate on this going on but I feel there is no debate. Smoke is the number one issue in structure fires and having the best detector for that seems to be good sense. Plus there is data coming out that Ionization detector may have a greater fail rate.

Jan 22, 2013 05:26 AM
Dale Bledsoe
Crown Key Realty - Tracy, CA
Realtor in Tracy, California

Great post. I may copy and use as a handout to my home buyers. With your permission of course. Great post.

Jan 22, 2013 07:13 AM
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Dale, Please use. I think most people just do not give much thought to it.

Jan 22, 2013 07:17 AM
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

The biggest problem I find with the photoelectrics is that people have them up way too long.  They should be replaced every 10 years or so.

Jan 22, 2013 09:26 AM
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jay, I think that is a common problem. I see that all the time also.

Jan 22, 2013 10:39 PM