Smoke Detector

What is the Home Inspector’s scope as far as a smoke detector
is concerned ? My training said to observe that there in all sleeping rooms
and in the hallway. A realtor asked me if I tested the smoke detector. I said no.

New Home Inspector

I test every reachable smoke detector with the test button only. I bet 25% do not respond. Either dead batteries or just old detectors.

I note their installation (or absence) reporting as much, and strongly recommend that they be checked by a certified Tech PRIOR to moving into the home.

Testing is beyond the scope of Home Inspectors, as far as I’m concerned… especially in a situation where it’s a condo (apartment) and the detector trips a main panel in a utility room three floors down, which automatically sends a call out to the local fire department - this takes two people to test; One to TRIP the alarm (not by pressing the button, as this only tests whether or not the button works - but by using canned smoke for the smoke alarm and a heat gun for the heat sensor) and one to monitor the panel, and call off the bucket brigade.

If I don’t test them, I state that in my reports. If I do test them, I state that. If they are not present in bedrooms or not interconnected, I state that. If they chirp, I state that. If they are covered by plastic bags, I state that. If they are absent, I state that.

In SC, I usually do not test because I’m not required to do so. NC requires that they be tested unless they are monitored by an alarm system. If an alarm system is present, I don’t test (whether currently monitored or not).

I report that they are present or not. Then I recommend that they be replaced with newer ones (unless they are hard wired). Most are disposable, and the instructions say to replace every six months.

[size=2]SMOKE DETECTORS [/size]and CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS** are often connected to the fire and intrusion alarm systems, and operating detectors may result in unwanted visits by police or fire departments. The built-in test button, when present, only verifies proper battery and test-light function; it does not test sensing capabilities.Therefore, detectors will not be tested. The presence and location only is reported.**
Recommendation: Obtain pertinent information from seller before closing and have the system checked by a security company or local fire department.

FEMA suggests a ten year replacement cycle.

How Long Should Your Smoke Alarm Last?
Smoke alarms have a useful life of about ten years. At that age they should be replaced, even if they seem to be working. This will assure that the alarm will be working when you need it.
Even though prices of today’s smoke alarms are less expensive than you might have paid some years ago, today’s alarms are more reliable. Thus, it is usually not worth keeping an old alarm rather than buying a replacement.

The test button also verifies whether they are interconnected.