In a typical home inspection, I routinely check for smoke detectors. This blog post will not cover every single requirement, but rather an education to the homeowner, whether you are purchasing a home or not. The issues I will raise is in the area of fire safety which includes the ever important smoke detector.
There are two basic types of smoke alarm detectors sold in the US ……ionization and photoelectric. I recommend both, but lean towards photoelectric detection and here’s why.
These two types of alarms indicate differently. Most people are just used to the typical ionization sensor smoke alarms, but if they become annoying, they are sometimes disconnected by someone in the home. According to The ASHI Reporter:
“Remember, about 96% of US homes have at least one smoke alarm. Nearly two-thirds of all residential fire deaths occur in homes that are unprotected. Roughly 50% of homeowners with nonfunctional alarms cite nuisance tripping as the reason for disabling their alarms. To complete the picture, many of the remaining 1/3 of residential fire deaths occur in homes where an alarm sounds, but it sounds too late for the occupants to escape. Over the years a number of government, university and manufacturer research studies, many going back to the mid-1970’s, clearly show that ionization alarms are slow to react in deadly smoldering fires and account for the vast majority of nuisance trips.”
In July, 2010, Albany, California became the first city in that state to require photoelectric smoke alarms in new construction and remodels. Other cities in California and the Ohio cities of Shaker Heights, Chagrin Falls and others have enacted similar ordinances.
The phrase, “It’s better to be safe than sorry” really is true on the issue of fire safety in your home.