Should I have a Fire Sprinkler Inspection in my Carlsbad House?

By
Real Estate Agent with Solutions Real Estate CA DRE #01490977

Should I have a Fire Sprinkler Inspection in my Carlsbad House?

 

For many years fire sprinklers were only required in office builders. Recent legislation here in California means that automatic residential fire sprinklers are now required in all new town homes and one and two-family houses, effective on January 1, 2011. You can read more about this legislation on fire sprinklers here.

 

Automated residential fire sprinkler control panelAn important question, then, is, should I have a fire sprinkler inspection when purchasing a resale home that has a automatic fire sprinkler system?

 

I recently sold a home in a nearby community that was less than 2 years old. Along with the home inspection I recommended, and the buyer strongly agreed, that there should be a fire sprinkler system inspection.

 

We contacted a number of companies who install residential fire sprinklers but they did not inspect them. I finally got a contact from the North County Fire Protection District in Fallbrook who provide a list of vendors that conducted residential fire sprinkler inspections.

 

Fire Sprinkler system alarm bell on the side of the houseThe inspection was completed by 24 Hour Fire Protection, Inc. at a cost of $195. Per their website this company services all of California.

 

This was a first and a terrific learning experience. I was really curious to see how this would be done - after all you can't light a match and hold it under a sprinkler head in the ceiling to see if they go off, can you?!

 

Here's what I learned (keep in mind this may be specific to the jurisdiction we were in and might be different in other parts of California and no doubt other states):

 

There are required areas for sprinkler heads and different types depending on temperature sensitivity (e.g., kitchens vs. closets vs. laundry rooms)

 

There is required signage to indicate the fire sprinkler system panel (normally in the garage - see top right photo) so nothing gets put in front of it that prohibits access - this contains the pressure gauge, controls, etc.

 

There should be a 911 Fire Alarm sign on the exterior alarm bell (See photo above right) located on the wall of the home to distinguish it from a security alarm. Thus if the alarm goes off people will know to call the fire department rather than the police

 

There is an external water spigot that is part of the system on the side of the house that is also supposed to be labeled (inspector's test sign) and is used for testing purposes. The inspector can check the flow of water as well as the time once water commences flowing before the alarm system goes off.  Seems to me the required time is supposed to be 30 seconds or less and this can be adjusted on the system. You certainly wouldn't want it to be a minute would you?!

 

You are supposed to have a small box in the garage containing extra sprinkler heads and a  wrench, and this is to be labeled as well.

 

No doubt with more and more newer homes an automated residential fire sprinkler system inspection will become a reguar part of a buyer's due diligence in newer homes.

 

 

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Topic:
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California San Diego County Carlsbad
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jeff dowler crs
what inspections should i have
fire sprinkler inspections

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Debbie Laity
Cedaredge Land Company - Cedaredge, CO
Your Real Estate Resource for Delta County, CO

That's a great explanation of how the sprinkler system is checked. I have wondered how this was done. I think a fire sprinkler system is a great feature in any home. It's not a law here in Colorado to have one. 

Jul 22, 2015 11:43 AM #1
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
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Debbie Laity 

There certainly are many homes where they are not required, but I'm glad to see that all new home must have them.

Thanks for stopping by!

Jeff

Jul 22, 2015 12:38 PM #2
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George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Jeff I can understand why a fire sprinkler would be required in condo complexes and multi family homes, but why would one be required in a single family home.

Jul 22, 2015 01:28 PM #3
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Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

we find comfort in knowing we have a fire alarm or carbon monoxide detector, but what good are they if they don't work?  Same goes for a sprinkler system. I would want it checked the same as I check my house for termites... annually.

Jul 22, 2015 03:00 PM #4
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Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

We have one, that is ONE county in my area of MD and VA that has required sprinkler sytems in all new residential construction for about 8 years.  

It's largely overlooked by most buyers and agents.  However, due to installation of faulty connectors, the systems are very risky.

Knowledge is power.  We require new connectors in homes we sell in those communities.

Jul 22, 2015 08:34 PM #5
Rainmaker
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Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

This is good information for home buyers buying a home with a sprinkler system. they should get it checked by professionals.

Jul 22, 2015 08:45 PM #6
Rainmaker
3,751,573
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Jeff Dowler CRS,

Excellent information! Lenn Harley is right..knowledge is power! I can understand why a fire sprinkler would be required in condo complexes and multi family homes wondering about the average home.

Jul 22, 2015 09:07 PM #7
Rainmaker
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Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Acessibility. Most home interior is so cluttered one can not even reach to circuit breaker, fire protection. 

Thanks for the source. I have it book marked.

Sam Shueh

Jul 23, 2015 12:16 AM #8
Rainmaker
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Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

This just came up for me. I was so happy to see the pressure gage under pressure saying in pressure talk...the system is working. Good posting here

Jul 23, 2015 12:17 AM #9
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
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George Souto 

Same reasons I would think. No doubt some insurance lobbying

Jeff

Jul 23, 2015 12:46 AM #10
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
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Tammy Lankford 

Yep CO detectors are required here, too, just like smoke detectors. It's smart to investigate all the systems (and requirements) in a home when buying...and periodically once you live there. Many don't

Jeff

Jul 23, 2015 12:49 AM #11
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
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Lenn Harley 

That makes sense. I don't have a good idea of how often buyers are having these inspections done in resales in our area, or whether there are issues cropping up

Jeff

Jul 23, 2015 12:50 AM #12
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
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Gita Bantwal 

They won't do much good if they aren't working, will they?

Jeff

Jul 23, 2015 01:10 AM #13
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
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Dorie Dillard 

I think that's a good question. Perhaps there is actuarial information that suggests it makes sense in the insurance industry. I don't know the history behind it all but worth checking into

Jeff

Jul 23, 2015 01:12 AM #14
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Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
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Sam Shueh 

And accessibility often IS an issue when doing home inspections. Thanks for stopping by

Jeff

Jul 23, 2015 04:01 AM #15
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