Every so often, I write a newsletter on a subject I think might be of interest to both real estate professionals and their clients. You can find links to them below.
One of the most common concerns found in home inspections is the lack or improper placement of smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. While it is relatively easy to fix these problems, failing to do so could leave the occupants of a home at greater risk in the event of a fire or back-drafting of a heating appliance.
The current guidelines for smoke alarms call for a smoke alarm in each bedroom AND on the ceiling or wall outside each separate sleeping area (usually a hallway or stairwell) AND on each story of the building. This includes a basement or cellar (preferably on the ceiling near the stairs), but not a crawlspace or attic. There should also be a smoke alarm in garages where the temperature is controlled.
CO alarms should be located on each level of a home, and may be combination smoke/CO alarms.
The proper placement of a smoke alarm is on the ceiling, or on a wall between 6 and 12 inches down from the ceiling. In a room with a vaulted ceiling, the alarm should be located no more than 36 inches and no less than 4 inches from the peak.
Due to the increased likelihood of false alarms and/or decreased accuracy, smoke alarms should NOT be placed in the following locations:
-Near a window, within 36” of a ceiling fan, or near a heating or A/C appliance
-In a bathroom with a shower or tub, where steamy air could cause a false alarm
-In a kitchen near a cooking appliance
-In an unfinished attic or garage where the temperature may fall outside the 40-100ºF range.
-In dead-air spots
In Vermont, state law has required the installation of smoke alarms in all new homes since 1994. As of 2008, smoke alarms are required to be of the photoelectric type only, and to be hardwired with a battery backup. Combination photoelectric smoke alarm/CO alarms are allowed, but not combination photoelectric/ionization alarms.
Being aware of these guidelines can help home sellers make the best impression, and give buyers the information they need to achieve maximum fire safety in their new home.