The Inspector Who™ Saved Lives With Smoke Detector Recommendations

Every day home inspectors save lives. This might sound trite, but it is true. By definition, a home inspector is an individual who has a broad general background of basic house construction, common house problems and methods for their correction. An excerpt from the Maryland Home Inspection Statue states A home inspection is a limited, non-invasive examination of the condition of a home, often in connection with the sale of that home. A home inspector who has the training and certifications to perform such inspections usually conducts the inspection. The inspector prepares and delivers to the client a written report of findings. The client then uses the knowledge gained to make informed decisions about their pending real estate purchase. The home inspector describes the condition of the home at the time of inspection but does not guarantee future condition, efficiency, or life expectancy of systems or components.

One of the reasons home inspectors save lives is that they help to ensure the safety of a home before the family moves in. For instance, a home inspector who recommends that smoke detectors be hardwired, interconnected, and battery backed up, is probably saving lives. This is the safest configuration and perhaps the best advice a home inspector can give on the subject.

In 2009 the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that 40% of all home fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarms, and that 23% occurred in homes where smoke alarms did not work. The main reason smoke alarms fail to work is because batteries are either dead or disconnected. They also reported that the death rate was twice as high for a home fire if the smoke detector was missing or not functioning. In addition, they recommended hardwiring smoke alarms because these types of alarms are more reliable then battery powered smoke detectors.
Many building codes also require smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in homes because they so valuable in detection. They are also inexpensive, and easy to install and maintain.

Smoke detectors should be mounted high on walls, or on the ceiling because smoke usually fills the room from the ceiling down, this placement gives the earliest warning of smoke. They should be located away from windows or exterior doors. These detectors can be installed on every level of the home, especially in areas where people are sleeping.

Carbon monoxide detectors can be mounted anywhere they can remain clean and out of the way of pets and children. Place the carbon monoxide detector near gas furnaces and in hallways. Carbon monoxide detectors use chemicals to detect the gases presence. These gases need to be replenished over time.
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors need to be tested routinely by pressing the test button. The detectors will make a loud noise if they are working, and if they don’t, then the batteries probably need to be replaced. After the batteries are replaced, the detector should be retested.

Home inspectors who notice the failure or lack of smoke or carbon monoxide detectors are saving lives. In addition, all home inspectors need to be reminded to protect themselves and their businesses with home inspector’s error and omissions insurance.