COMMON QUESTIONS RELATED TO THE SMOKE DETECTOR INSPECTION
FOR THE SALE OR RENTAL OF A DWELLING
First and foremost and to avoid confusion:
110v hardwired detectors with battery backup can only be replaced with the same and with the 10-year lithium battery backup, NO battery only devices are allowed to used when your home or condo has hardwired devices. See below for additional information.
All battery only detectors need to be replaced with or installed as new with the new 10-year lithium battery detector. The old detectors with 9v, AA or AAA batteries cannot be used anymore. See below for additional information.
All low voltage systems must be tested yearly and monitoring of the system cannot be disconnected. At the time of sale, the current report of the current year must be shown as proof that the system is in working order and all detectors are within the manufacturers specification for sensitivity and detection. See below for additional information.
1. DO I NEED A CO OR CCO INSPECTION? A. NO. The smoke certification is all you need for the inspection.
2. CAN I INSTALL BATTERY DETECTORS INSTEAD OF HARDWIRED ONES? A. NO. Building codes since 1977, require all detectors that were originally installed at the time of construction be maintained and up to date. If the home has hardwired detectors, then they must stay hardwired and be 10 years old or less. Homes built prior to 1977 did not have detectors installed and they can have battery only devices, one outside the bedroom and on each level of the home. See questions 4 and 13.
3. CAN I INSTALL BATTERY DETECTORS WITH REMOVABLE BATTERIES? A. NO. The new 10-year sealed battery detector must be installed. One on each level of the home. The detectors with 9v, AA or AAA batteries cannot be used in homes built prior to 1977. After 1977, we have encouraged and now require the use of the new hardwired 10-year battery devices (See Question 12), in homes with hardwired detectors. If the current detectors are too old or reaching the 10-year mark, they must be replaced with the new detector mentioned in above and in Questions 4, 5 and 12.
4. HOW MANY DETECTORS DO I NEED? A. The number of detectors vary from home to home. Detector locations have been determined by building codes since 1977. Prior to 1977, at minimum, one battery detector on each level is needed. From 1977 to 1983, hardwired detectors were installed in the basement and the upper level of the home. From 1983 to 1991, hardwired detectors were installed on each level. In some rare instance, there may or may not have been a detector installed on the main level of a home. In this case, a battery only device can be used on this level, since there was not one installed originally and you need to have one on each level. Since 1991, hardwired detectors have been installed on each level and in every bedroom. Detectors that are installed near the sleeping area(s) need to be 10 feet from the doorways. In some cases, if the rooms are on opposite ends of the hall, then two (2) hallway detectors may ne needed. The use of combination smoke and CO detectors with the new 10-year lithium backup battery need to be installed in the bedroom area. That way you won't need to have two separate devices for detection (See Questions 3 and 12).
5. HOW LONG DO DETECTORS LAST? A. Detectors made today are made to last 10 years. Any detector that is close to the age limit are advised to be replaced even though they may be within the timeframe. You need to replace them the new 10-year lithium battery backup devices going forward. Recently, we have seen detector and the batteries being removed from the device and not replaced or replaced in a non-working order.
6. I HAVE A LOW VOLTAGE SYSTEM, DO I NEED TO HAVE IT TESTED? A. YES. All low voltage system that are not part of the original construction must be tested annually by a qualified service technician. At the time of a sale, the system must have been tested and monitored within the same year of the sale with no errors or faults per the NFPA 72. The NFPA 72 form is the guideline the tester must use and the NFPA 72 report is what we need to see.
7. DO I NEED A CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR (CO)? A. YES. They must be installed in the hallway outside the sleeping or bedroom area. Use a device with a 10-year lithium battery for power or backup, if the device is a plug-in.
8. CAN I USE A COMBINATION SMOKE AND CO DETECTOR? A. YES. The combo detector can be used to satisfy the smoke and CO requirement of the inspection. You must use a detector with the 10-year lithium battery backup, stop using detectors with 9v, AA or AAA batteries. Less maintenance and no need to change batteries twice a year.
9. DO I NEED AN EXTINGUISHER? A. YES. The minimum required extinguisher size is the 2A-10B:C or 210 for short. The old 1A-10B:C or 110 cannot be used anymore.
10. I HAVE A LOW VOLTAGE ALARM SYSTEM AND THE 110v DETECTORS, DO I NEED TO REPLACE THE 110v SMOKE DETECTORS? A. YES. The 110v systems must be maintained and updated, since the low voltage systems are not a required system. See the low voltage question #6 above for further info.
11. CAN I REMOVE THE 110v SYSTEM AND INSTALL A LOW VOLTAGE SYSTEM? A. NO. The 110v systems are required by building codes at the time of construction. You can have both systems, but the 110v system must be maintained.
12. ARE 10-YEAR BATTERY BACKUP DEVICES AN OPTION? A. YES. We are asking homeowners to switch to these new devices for a few reasons. One, they are low maintenance and you don't have to replace the batteries every six months. Two, you don't have the low battery chirp as the batteries get old and three, it protects from having the batteries removed and used for other devices and not putting the detector back up. This is a good reason for rental units, the owner doesn't have to worry about the tenant(s) removing the detector and not putting it back up. Lastly, when one activates, the light goes out on the one that went off and you need to push the button to reset it, this happens with the hardwired ones only.
13. DIFFERENCES IN THE BUILDING CODES AS IT RELATES TO YOUR HOME AND SMOKE DETECTOR REQUIREMENTS. Home built prior to 1977 that have had work performed to enlarge the home will follow the current code in effect at that the time of the project. Example would be, adding a level to a home today would follow the codes of 2018. If the work was performed in 2001, then the code at that time would fall under 1991 code. Smoke detectors would be upgraded to hardwired and placed in the locations required by the code at that time. See question 4 for location requirements based on the year of construction.