Services for Real Estate Pros with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors

Smoke alarms are an important defense against injury or death in house fires. Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association show that nearly two-thirds of home fire fatalities occur in homes with non-working or missing smoke detectors. Most building codes now require smoke detectors in all residential structures, which has resulted in a steep drop in fire- and smoke-related deaths. Homeowners should check with their local public safety office or fire department for specific information on these requirements. We asked Roberto Sarjoo, Marketing Manager for Pillar To Post, for his tips on smoke alarms.

  • As in real estate, location is key! Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the home.
  • Alarms should be placed high on a wall or on the ceiling. It’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement. High, peaked ceilings have dead air space at the top; in these cases smoke alarms should be placed no closer than 3 feet from the highest point.
  • For areas close to the kitchen, use a detector with a “hush button” that can be used to silence nuisance alarms triggered by cooking smoke or steam. No matter which type is used, never remove the unit’s battery to stop or prevent nuisance alarms.
  • There are two primary types of smoke alarm technology: ionization and photoelectric. According to the National Fire Protection Association, ionization alarms are more responsive to flames, while photoelectric alarms are more sensitive to smoldering fires. For the most comprehensive protection, both types or a combination unit should be installed.
  • Test each alarm monthly. It’s helpful to put a reminder in the calendar to do this on the first or last day of the month, for example. The units have a test button that will sound the alarm for a moment or two when pressed. Any alarm that fails to sound should have the battery replaced. If the test button fails with a new battery, replace the entire detector immediately.
  • Replace the batteries at least once a year. A common rule of thumb is to do this when changing to or from Daylight Saving Time in fall or spring. Remember, a non-working alarm is no better than no alarm at all. Some alarms now come with 10-year lithium batteries that eliminate the need for new batteries, but the unit itself must be replaced after its stated lifespan.
  • If the alarms are hard-wired to the home’s electrical system, make sure they are interconnected for maximum effectiveness – meaning that if one alarm is triggered the others will sound as well. Any hard-wired alarms, interconnected or not, should be installed by a licensed electrician for safety and proper operation.
  • The newest interconnected alarms are wireless. This technology allows detectors to communicate with one another and, like their hard-wired cousins, will sound all units at the same time even if just one is triggered initially.

Comments (16)

Shirley Coomer
Keller Williams Realty Sonoran Living - Phoenix, AZ
Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, Phoenix Az

Great reminders for smoke alarms.  They are so inexpensive, yet most homes don't appear to have them in all the right places.  This often comes up on home inspections!

Nov 29, 2017 04:43 AM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

We had ours professionally installed and also included carbon monoxide checking.

Nov 29, 2017 06:31 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Excellent tips, Rhonda.  I like the idea of the wireless smoke detectors that communicate with the others. 

Nov 29, 2017 11:15 AM
Rhonda Sanderson
Pillar To Post Home Inspectors - Boca Raton, FL
Pillar To Post resident Blogger

Just sold a condo in Chicago and inspector saw I was missing one smoke detector. Uh-oh. Guess requirements had changed so keep up with that too!

Nov 29, 2017 12:17 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Rhonda --- thank you for the words from the wise....Bookmarked this post --- important stuff.

Nov 29, 2017 12:31 PM
Rhonda Sanderson
Pillar To Post Home Inspectors - Boca Raton, FL
Pillar To Post resident Blogger

It is!  Good for you--keep notes on all good tips. 

Nov 29, 2017 12:33 PM
Joseph Arce

Great post and reminder. Such a small cost to prevent large/costly issues.

Nov 29, 2017 08:55 PM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

I've always been very cautious and over concerned, it seemed, over the possibility of fire. Then I found out from a psychic that I had died in a fire in a past life. Makes sense to me!

Nov 30, 2017 08:14 AM
M.C. Dwyer
Melody Russell Team at eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Congratulations on getting your post featured!    It's hard to believe how many people take their alarms apart out of annoyance, leaving themselves and their loved ones exposed to such a costly, hazardous and potentially deadly risk.     If it's alright with you  Rhonda Sanderson , I'd like to re-blog this important information.

Nov 30, 2017 10:08 AM
Rhonda Sanderson

Be my guest!!!

Nov 30, 2017 01:24 PM
M.C. Dwyer

Thanks Rhonda Sanderson !

Dec 01, 2017 07:03 AM
Corey Martin
Martin Presence Group - Ruston, LA
Real Estate and Management Solutions

Congratulations on your post getting featured. This is great advice, especially for rental properties. Thanks for sharing. 

Nov 30, 2017 11:58 AM
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Great tips on smoke detectors.

I have found that smoke detectors can be a deterrent to a house selling.

I have show many houses that had a detector chirping. I notice the buyers are annoyed by that constant noise.

I have never sold a house that chirped.

Nov 30, 2017 12:08 PM
Rhonda Sanderson

No chirping allowed. Check batteries before taking buyers in.

Nov 30, 2017 01:11 PM
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

Hi Rhonda - I came to thank you for posting this great information which I saw this morning from the re-blog by M.C. Dwyer. I would also like to re-blog this and get the news out to my readers, too. Thanks!.

Dec 01, 2017 07:14 AM
Lauren Williams, CPO, CVPO
Casual Uncluttering LLC - Woodinville, WA
Professional Organizer: Puget Sound homes

Rhonda Sanderson Equally frightening: I have twice been in work situations where people IGNORED the fire alarms going off. In one instance, it was, fortunately, a drill. In the other, it was a REAL FIRE in the basement, and people ignored the alarm because there had been false alarms going off all week during testing. NEVER IGNORE THE ALARMS. A dozen people could have been hurt from the basement fire.

Dec 01, 2017 08:07 AM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

When I think about smoke detectors, I think of neighbors - an elderly couple who lost their life in a home fire several years ago.  They didn't have a working smoke detector in the house.

Dec 01, 2017 03:08 PM
Dan Derito
Success! Real Estate - Brockton, MA

Nice post Rhonda. I took the liberty of sharing it to my facebook page.  

Dec 02, 2017 06:06 AM