Holy Smoke!

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Think ahead to when you’re trying to sell the house you’re flipping.  The buyers will most likely hire a home inspector to check out the place. Inspectors will look for the presence and operation of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  If you haven’t checked or replaced the smoke detectors, you may need to accommodate the requests of the buyers.

Before you even start your renovation, check with the local code enforcement office to see what the requirements are for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in a home being renovated. Depending upon the amount of renovation being performed, you may be required to install detectors to the most current code requirements.  Note: if you are renovating the property in order to rent it to tenants, the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are usually different than for a simple residence.  Be sure to convey that to the code enforcement office.

Why should you do this before you start your renovation?  Because, you may be required to installed hardwired and/or linked detectors throughout the house.  This means you may need to run wiring in the ceilings or walls to appropriate locations for the smoke detectors. This, in turn, means that you may need to cut into the wall or ceiling to for wiring, which may affect your decision of whether or not to renovate certain areas of the house.


If the smoke detectors in the house are sufficient in number and placed in the proper locations, check for the date of manufacture on the back.  The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recommends replacing smoke detectors 10 years from the date of manufacture.  So, if the date on it is 2009, the detector should be replaced this year, (2019).  If there is no date of manufacture on the smoke detector, assume that they are more than 10 years old.



The best practice for placing smoke detectors in a home is one in each bedroom, one in the hallway to bedrooms, and one on every floor of the house.  Wiring these together or using detectors that are able to wirelessly communicate with each other is also good practice.  Below is a chart that can be found on brkelectronics’ website that shows the NFPA’s recommendations.  Again, it is always best to check with the local code enforcement office to understand the exact requirements.  If you are going to use an electrician to install the wiring, they should already understand the code.

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Excerpted from brkelectronics.com

There are many smoke detectors on the market today, but they can be divided into 3 types:

  • Ionizing
  • Photoelectric
  • Combination

Both ionizing and photoelectric have their pros and cons, so manufacturers introduced a combination type that uses the best of both types to better detect smoke/fire.  I’m certain there are a number of opinions to be found on the internet, but I’m including a link to a page on First Alert’s website which helps answers several questions about the different types:  https://www.firstalertstore.com/store/categories/Smoke_alarms_faq.htm

Note:  the NFPA makes recommendations for fire prevention in residences (as well as other types of structures), but these recommendations need to be accepted by the local authority in order for them to be required.  The NFPA has no authority to institute requirements.

By investigating the needs for smoke detectors upfront, you can avoid the possibility of having to negotiate the costs of installing them at the time of closing.