Smoke Detectors

Each year I like to remind everyone that October is not only the time to change your clock (fall back) but a perfect time to change the batteries in your smoke detectors. If you haven't changed your smoke detector batteries recently, now is the time. With smoke detectors, even if you have a large, two story home with many bedrooms, for less than $50.00 you can protect those you love from being caught without warning in the case of a fire. Of all the costs associated with home ownership, this seems like a wonderfully inexpensive investment.

Why is a realtor talking to you about smoke detectors? As realtors, we are put in the position of needing to know a little something about a number of things that cross into other fields of expertise. We are not the experts, but we need to connect our client to the expert. In the case of smoke detectors, it is state law that the sellers sign a written statement that the home they are selling is in compliance with the California smoke detector law. Even though it has been standard in new construction for a number of years to hard wire smoke detectors into the electrical system, battery back up is still required. Not always known is that since August of 1992, when the valuation of an addition, alteration, or repair to a single family dwelling exceeds $1,000.00 and a permit is issued, smoke detector installation is required.

One reason realtors know this is that most homes need $1,000.00 of work, either to get ready to sell, or with termite repairs before they close escrow.

The requirement is that there be a smoke detector in every bedroom, one centrally located in the corridor or hallway outside the bedroom(s) on each floor that has bedrooms. In addition, for the placement of the detector to be the most effective, it is placed two feet below the highest part of the ceiling. In Montara and Moss Beach on the Coastside, it is a requirement that the fire department inspects the location and operation of smoke detectors on any home before the sale or transfer is complete. They charge a $15.00 fee for this service. I suspect they would also be happy to do this even if there is not a sale.

The California Fire Marshall recommends that not only do you install smoke detectors in their required locations, but that you change the batteries when you change your clocks, every October and April. This seems a great time to remind everyone. As we enter the time of holidays, cooler weather, and fires in the fireplace, it is also a time of higher hazards with live trees and lots of paper wrappings. Although existing homes are not required to meet the same standards of new construction or improved properties, for such a small amount of money to afford home safety, why not take heed?