Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors
The average home has several built-in safety features many of us often overlook. Increasing innovation in safety technology is often the driving factor for these features to be installed in new homes. But how does the new safety technology get installed in older homes?
Updating building codes and State/local ordinances is the method used to ensure new life saving technologies is installed in older homes. The average home exchanges ownership about every 8 years, and is remodeled every 15 years. By requiring safety upgrades when the home is purchased or remodeled ensures the housing stock in a given community is reasonably up to date with systems which may had not been available when the home was constructed.
Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are two such systems. Effective battery powered smoke detectors where developed by 1971 and were installed in 17,000 residences shortly after. Three years later there were no injuries due to residential fire in these homes. This led to the development of standards for the manufacturing and installing of smoke detectors in residential buildings. By 2009 almost 96% of all homes in the United States had at least one smoke detector. The effectiveness of the modern smoke detector is cited as the most significant effort for reducing fire related injury or death in the 20th century.
Through the 70s and 80s, a single smoke detector was installed in a common area of the home, typically a hallway. Now, smoke detectors are often required in each bedroom and a common space near the bedrooms. This provides better coverage for sleeping occupants and possibly earlier detection.
Battery powered carbon monoxide detectors become widely available by 1993. In 2011, California mandated installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all single-family homes with an attached garage or a fossil fuel source. This program was enforced through laws requiring an installed detector in every home which is sold or where a construction permit is issued. The detector should be installed outside of the bedrooms, in a manner laid out in the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Your home inspector should, at a minimum, comment on the presence or lack-there-of, of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in any home being inspected and alert you to areas in which they are missing. Please be aware, if an older home has not been modified since its original construction, there is no requirement to add additional smoke detectors, other than common sense. Only carbon monoxide detectors are mandated to be installed if missing.
North American Home Services has been providing home inspection services to the greater Sacramento region for over 10 years. We have completed thousands of inspections on residential and commercial buildings. Our home inspectors are highly regarded and qualified. Each is certified through the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors and remains current on all aspects related to providing the best home inspection services.