Smoke alarm question

My Home Inspect school advised me to only note that the smoke alarms
are in the correct locations. They advised us not to check if they were
working…they said that it would be up to somebody certified ( some type of
fire code training) in that field.

Example: fire in premis, Home inspector says he tested the device as working.
Investigation proves that the unit did not function. Here comes a lawsuit.

Im looking for feedback on this issue:

What should we as Home Inspectors do as far as smoke alarms are
concerned ?

Report their presence or absence.

How would you test them? The button will tell you if the alarm sounds, but will not tell you if it will activate when there is a fire.

They also have about a 10 year shelf life.

I never test but give advice on replacing and placement.

Local codes vary .

As Rick said 8-10 years and they should go in the garbage.
Button only tests battery .(they sell a product called canned smoke , but I never tried it)

Ditto :smiley: The manufacturers instructions also recommend periodic cleaning of the units. Who has ever done that?

I always test them by just verifying they are interconnected…and at proper locations.

I always advise my clients to replace all smoke detector batteries upon taking ownership of the property.

That would be a GREAT TIP…Simple yet POWERFUL !

I am with Charles on this one. This past spring I simply started recommending to replace them all and make sure to have one in the proper locations upon taking control of the property.


I think that if the manufacturer states how to test them, then that’s good enough for me, and my Clients. Of course, follow all of the other manufacturer’s suggestions, too, like replacing batteries, etc.

It gives the clients something to do.

“ya’ll spread out and listen for the smoke detectors” (to insure they’re interconnected)

“This will be a good time to talk to the young’uns about what to do if they hear this sound” etc.

The template has canned language to replace all batteries upon move in and test regularly IAW the manufacturer’s instructions.:mrgreen:

The canned smoke works well, just give it a shot.
When you have verified all, spray with some of the canned air for cleaning computers. It will shut-them-up.

Testing the button on the unit only verified the battery is working.

thanks everybody!!!

And you should make sure that they are compliant with HCD in CA. Not only the type but the locations and functionality. If this was a Manufactured/Mobile home you inspected then you should make sure you are up to speed with the HCD requirements.

The only smoke detectors I test are my own.

I love the Massachusetts Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide detector law.

I include this in all my reports…***

Smoke & CO Alarms**** - *Massachusetts law requires that all residential structures be equipped with approved smoke detectors and CO (Carbon Monoxide) detectors upon sale. The local fire department will issue a certificate to prove compliance. The Seller is responsible for obtaining this certificate before close of escrow. Your Realtor will go over this with you.