Smoke Detectors

For those of you that don’t test them but merely note the presence of smoke detectors, how do you write that into the report?

I note if they are present or not and quick guideline on where they should be and to change batteries and test each one upon moving in.

If you test them on the inspection and then they close a month or so later no way of telling if they still are there and or functional.

The same for everything else in your inspection/report.

Yes but this is one of the biggest life safety issues and commonly they are disconnected even at the inspection. Especially for a new homebuyer they have probably never had to worry about them before and it is one of those things not everyone thinks about. So I always suggest checking them as soon as they move in.

I always recommend replacement for my clients peace of mind that they will work when they are all moved in. Plus most detectors I see are over 10 years old and NFPA recommends replacement every 10 years. I included a NFPA handout in my folder I give to all clients. It is free to download and print at

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It is VERY IMPORTANT that you have working smoke detectors at each floor and in each bedroom and CO detectors at each floor. All detectors should be installed, tested and replaced according to manufacturers recommendations for proper function.

In the county that I live in there is an ordinance that requires them to be replaced for every real estate transaction.
This should be a adopted nationally

I write the following with similar for Carbon Monoxide.
Smoke Detector(s) present in home:

  • NOT TESTED as part of inspection.
  • Industry standards indicate Smoke Detectors have a lifespan of 10 years. Manufacture date can sometimes be found by removing the front plate and looking for a date printed or stamped inside the unit.
  • Recommend if units are 10 years, older than 10 years or if the age is unknown, to REPLACE the units as a safety precaution. Homeowners are advised to test units operation monthly with installation of new batteries annually.

CO detectors are not needed for homes without attached garages, gas appliances, or fireplaces.

;)I have changed my report template to say: “Inspected for the presence of smoke detectors”. If they do have smoke detectors, I note on the report: " I only inspect for the presence of smoke detectors, once you take occupancy you should test monthly according to the manufactures instructions.":slight_smile:

That’s a nice idea.
New Florida Statute - I recommend replacing older battery units:

" Effective January 1, 2015, a battery-powered smoke alarm that is newly installed or replaces an existing battery-powered smoke alarm must be powered by a nonremovable, nonreplaceable battery that powers the alarm for at least 10 years"

Required in Washington on ALL homes sold. No exceptions. Seller must install.

Remember that a lot of times you can see what if a smoke detector is near the end of it’s useful lifespan by looking at the color. If it’s yellowish in color it probably has to be replaced soon.