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  1. #1
    Anthony Alderman's Avatar
    Anthony Alderman Guest

    Default smoke alarms wired together

    Does anyone know what year that hardwired detectors had to alarm together when tested?
    Thanks
    Tony

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  2. #2
    Tim Moreira's Avatar
    Tim Moreira Guest

    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    Anthony,

    I was not aware of this requirement so I looked it up in the 03 IRC.

    Learned something new today. Thank you. Bold is mine.

    [F] R313.1 Smoke alarms.
    Smoke alarms shall be installed in the following locations:
    1. In each sleeping room.
    2. Outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
    3. On each additional story of the dwelling, including basements but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. In dwellings or dwelling units with split levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent levels, a smoke alarm installed on the upper level shall suffice for the adjacent lower level provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level.
    When more than one smoke alarm is required to be installed within an individual dwelling unit the alarm devices shall be interconnected in such a manner that the actuation of one alarm will activate all of the alarms in the individual unit. The alarm shall be clearly audible in all bedrooms over background noise levels with all intervening doors closed.
    All smoke alarms shall be listed and installed in accordance with the provisions of this code and the household fire warning equipment provisions of NFPA 72.

    That's the great thing about this board. You always learn something by someone else's questions.

    Thanks again. Sorry I don't know the answer to when this took place.


  3. #3
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
    Richard Rushing Guest

    Post Re: smoke alarms wired together

    This was a requirement in the 1995 CABO, One and Two Family Dwelling Code.

    316.1 Smoke detectors required. Smoke detectors shal be installed in each sleeping room, outside of each separate sleeping aras in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms and on each additional story of the dwelling, including basements and cellars but ont including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. In dwellings or dwelling units with split levels, a smoke detector need be installed only on the upper level, provided the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level, except that if there is a door between levels, then a detector is required on each level. All detectors shall be interconnected such that the actuation of one alarm will actuate all the alarms in the induvidual unit and shall provide an alarm which will be audible in all sleeping areas. All detectors shall be approved and listed and shall be installed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

    This requirement has been on the books for quite some time... not new.

    Richard


  4. #4
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    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    I want to say that this requirement was from the early 90's and 1992 seems to stick out in my mind. It also seemed that this was an NEC change.
    Buster


  5. #5
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    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    As I don't test smoke alarms, I really don't know but others do. In every single inspection (except for new homes) I recommend that the alarms should be replaced. A couple of reasons;
    1. We have no way to tell if the sensitivity of the alarm has been impacted by the environment of the home. ie. Smoking, grease from cooking, dust and dirt, etc.
    2. Smoke alarms wear out. They have an average lifespan of 7 years +- a few years! They are too cheap not to replace.

    A question for those of you that test smoke alarms to see if they are wired in series to activate at the same time:

    How do you check each alarm to make sure that it is setting off all of the other ones? My home has 7 smoke alarms in it. It is physically impossible for one person to check all 7 alarms in my home. Even when my wife and I tried we could not make it to all of the alarms before the reset and turned off.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    If you are going to test hard-wired alarms, make sure that they are not connected to an active alarm system - otherwise you may end up paying the "response fee".


  7. #7
    Tim Moreira's Avatar
    Tim Moreira Guest

    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    I tend to agree with Scott,

    Note the presence or absence of them in sleeping rooms and then recommend they be replaced immediately after moving in. Then I give them the link to NFPA:

    NFPA :: Research & Reports :: Fact sheets :: Fire protection equipment :: Smoke alarms


  8. #8
    Anthony Alderman's Avatar
    Anthony Alderman Guest

    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    The NC SOP requires we inspect smoke alarms so....... do you test or just note that there?? Seems to inspect means alittle more than noting.... but how much more?
    Tony


  9. #9
    Anthony Alderman's Avatar
    Anthony Alderman Guest

    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Rushing View Post
    This was a requirement in the 1995 CABO, One and Two Family Dwelling Code.

    Richard
    What I have on my hands is a 1992 2 story. Alarms are hardwired but are not activating each other. So with 1992 do I call it?


  10. #10
    Tim Moreira's Avatar
    Tim Moreira Guest

    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    I just went back and re-read the ASHI standards on this. Haven't read them in a while, but surprisingly they do not require testing, only reporting of absence of smoke detectors.


    ASHI Standards as of copyright 1-1-00

    7.1 The Inspector Shall:

    C: Report

    2: on the absence of smoke detectors

    Now we all know that standards like codes are the minimum crappiest you can inspect to.

    Last edited by Tim Moreira; 04-04-2007 at 01:55 PM. Reason: left out copyright date

  11. #11
    Anthony Alderman's Avatar
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    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    Yea I saw that in the ASHI standards but it seems that NC is going out of its way to make us climb more ladders...

    .1110 ELECTRICAL
    (a) The home inspector shall inspect:
    (
    (8) Smoke Detectors.
    (
    So I'm assuming that we are to test
    Tony


  12. #12
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    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Alderman View Post
    Yea I saw that in the ASHI standards but it seems that NC is going out of its way to make us climb more ladders...

    .1110 ELECTRICAL
    (a) The home inspector shall inspect:
    (
    (8) Smoke Detectors.
    (
    So I'm assuming that we are to test
    Tony
    Well, that could also mean to inspect for their presence or lack of.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  13. #13
    Anthony Alderman's Avatar
    Anthony Alderman Guest

    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    You may be right but if you look at in the context of the whole paragraph

    .1110 ELECTRICAL
    (a) The home inspector shall inspect:
    (1) Service entrance conductors;
    (2) Service equipment, grounding equipment, main overcurrent device, and main and distribution panels;
    (3) Amperage and voltage ratings of the service;
    (4) Branch circuit conductors, their overcurrent devices, and the compatibility of their ampacities;
    (5) The operation of a representative number of installed ceiling fans, lighting fixtures, switches and receptacles located inside the house, garage, and on the dwelling’s exterior walls;
    (6) The polarity and grounding of all receptacles within six feet of interior plumbing fixtures, and all receptacles in the garage or carport, and on the exterior of inspected structures;
    (7) The operation of ground fault circuit interrupters; and
    (8) Smoke detectors.
    (b) The home inspector shall describe:
    (1) Service amperage and voltage;
    (2) Service entry conductor materials;
    (3) The service type as being overhead or underground; and
    (4) The location of main and distribution panels.

    it comes afterchecking celing fans , light switches, polarity, grounding, GFCI's all of which have to be activated, so I think that the assumption would be that the smoke detector should be too.


  14. #14
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
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    Post Re: smoke alarms wired together

    I would definately identify the smoke detectors as providing an audible sound (note-- I did not say functional), then let your client know that it is preferable to have the smoke detectors electronically tied-together in the event of a fire, which provides the same amount of time for ALL occupants as opposed to some folks in the home having to wait until a good deal of the home is engulfed in flames until the far-side detectors activate.

    Smoke detectors should be installed in all bedrooms and the hallways leading to the bedrooms as well as all levels of the home. If they are not... they are "In Need of Repair", even if they provide an audible sound.

    This is on every one of my reports:
    _________________________________
    Smoke detectors are not inspected for the detection of smoke. They are inspected for an audible alarm only.

    If you have a stand-alone smoke detector system (not electronically tied-together in a series) it is my recommendation that you should consider replacing the smoke detectors after move in unless you know the absolute age. If the detectors are 7 years or older-- replacement is recommended.
    _______________________________________________

    Richard


  15. #15
    Anthony Alderman's Avatar
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    Smile Re: smoke alarms wired together

    Thanks Richard
    I like the straight forward verbiage. To the point and covers the bases.
    Tony


  16. #16
    Philip Desmarais's Avatar
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    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    It's interesting to see the wide range of opinions on this and similar older threads on this topic.

    Richard suggests the following: "If you have a stand-alone smoke detector system (not electronically tied-together in a series) it is my recommendation that you should consider replacing the smoke detectors after move in unless you know the absolute age. If the detectors are 7 years or older-- replacement is recommended."

    Richard, I like the statement but am wondering: Do you determine, for your client, the type of system (i.e., is stand-alone vs tied-together)?


  17. #17
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
    Richard Rushing Guest

    Talking Re: smoke alarms wired together

    Quote Originally Posted by Philip Desmarais View Post
    Richard, I like the statement but am wondering: Do you determine, for your client, the type of system (i.e., is stand-alone vs tied-together)?
    Nope... the only thing I determine is the cost of the inspection.


    Rich


  18. #18
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    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Alderman View Post
    You may be right but if you look at in the context of the whole paragraph

    .1110 ELECTRICAL
    (a) The home inspector shall inspect:
    (1) Service entrance conductors;
    (2) Service equipment, grounding equipment, main overcurrent device, and main and distribution panels;
    (3) Amperage and voltage ratings of the service;
    (4) Branch circuit conductors, their overcurrent devices, and the compatibility of their ampacities;
    (5) The operation of a representative number of installed ceiling fans, lighting fixtures, switches and receptacles located inside the house, garage, and on the dwelling’s exterior walls;
    (6) The polarity and grounding of all receptacles within six feet of interior plumbing fixtures, and all receptacles in the garage or carport, and on the exterior of inspected structures;
    (7) The operation of ground fault circuit interrupters; and
    (8) Smoke detectors.
    (b) The home inspector shall describe:
    (1) Service amperage and voltage;
    (2) Service entry conductor materials;
    (3) The service type as being overhead or underground; and
    (4) The location of main and distribution panels.

    it comes afterchecking celing fans , light switches, polarity, grounding, GFCI's all of which have to be activated, so I think that the assumption would be that the smoke detector should be too.

    Do you "test" the following items you are required to inspect?
    - (1) Service entrance conductors;
    - (2) Service equipment, grounding equipment, main overcurrent device, and main and distribution panels;
    - (3) Amperage and voltage ratings of the service;
    - (4) Branch circuit conductors, their overcurrent devices, and the compatibility of their ampacities;
    - (8) Smoke detectors.

    Note that the following are to be *tested* as they state "operation" or 'implies' "operation" by stating "the polarity and grounding of":
    - (5) The operation of a representative number of installed ceiling fans, lighting fixtures, switches and receptacles located inside the house, garage, and on the dwelling’s exterior walls;
    - (6) The polarity and grounding of all receptacles within six feet of interior plumbing fixtures, and all receptacles in the garage or carport, and on the exterior of inspected structures;
    - (7) The operation of ground fault circuit interrupters; and

    Note that "(8) Smoke detectors." does not state or imply "operation", just "inspect".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  19. #19
    Fred Herndon's Avatar
    Fred Herndon Guest

    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    Anthony,
    Sorry to come in late in this discusion, but you need to scroll down just a bit farther in the SOP to .1110 (d). This was at the top of the next page when you copied from the Standards. We are required to operate the test functions of smoke alarms. In newer construction this is pretty easy, I just set off one in the upstairs hall and listen. If it is a larger home I may have to do this more than once, but that is usually no problem.

    If you do your inspection according to the SOP you are afforded at least some legal protection, but adding some verbiage such as Richard's is a very good idea.

    To the best of my knowledge, linking smoke detectors together has only been required in NC since January 2000.

    .1110 ELECTRICAL
    (a) The home inspector shall inspect:
    (1) Service entrance conductors;
    (2) Service equipment, grounding equipment, main overcurrent device, and main and distribution panels;
    (3) Amperage and voltage ratings of the service;
    (4) Branch circuit conductors, their overcurrent devices, and the compatibility of their ampacities;
    (5) The operation of a representative number of installed ceiling fans, lighting fixtures, switches and receptacles located inside the house, garage, and on the dwelling’s exterior walls;
    (6) The polarity and grounding of all receptacles within six feet of interior plumbing fixtures, and all receptacles in the garage or carport, and on the exterior of inspected structures;
    (7) The operation of ground fault circuit interrupters; and
    (8) Smoke detectors.
    (b) The home inspector shall describe:
    (1) Service amperage and voltage;
    (2) Service entry conductor materials;
    (3) The service type as being overhead or underground; and
    (4) The location of main and distribution panels.
    (c) The home inspector shall report the presence of any readily accessible single strand aluminum branch circuit wiring.
    (d) The home inspector shall report on the presence or absence of smoke detectors, and operate their test function, if accessible, except when detectors are part of a central system.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    Lets take a look at what the NFPA 72 has to say and see what applies to one and two family dwellings in regard to testing smoke detectors.

    In the index of NFPA 72 under the heading of Testing and the sub heading of Smoke detectors we are referred to 11.10

    11.10 says… "Maintenance and Tests. Fire warning equipment shall be maintained and tested in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and per the requirements of Chapter 10."

    Lets now take a look in Chapter 10 for any verbiage we can find relevant specifically to smoke detectors

    Chapter 10 is a long and wearying chapter that is filled with technical exhaustive testing requirements and long charts for required Visual Inspection Frequencies of various fire alarm systems components and very specific Test Methods to be used. It also give a limited list of persons qualified to conduct such inspections and testing.

    Fortunately, the overwhelming bulk of Chapter 10 has nothing to do with smoke detectors in one- and two-family dwellings. Mercifully for us as home inspectors, aspects of inspection and testing for one-and two-family dwellings is much more straight forward.

    The liberating phrase in my opinion is to be found in 10.4.3.2 where it says…

    "10.4.3.2 Sensitivity of smoke detectors and single- and multiple-station smoke alarms in other than one- and two-family dwellings shall be tested in accordance with 10.4.3.2.1 through 10.4.3.2.6." [The Bold/Coloration in the aboveis mine.]

    OK, it seems that the "technically exhaustive" inspection and testing requirements concerning smoke detectors do not apply where one- and two-family dwellings are concerned. Fair enough.

    Incidentally, 10.4.3.2.1 through 10.4.3.2.6 contains many of the technically exhaustive requirements that I often hear inspectors complaining about not being able/qualified to do while offering them up as reasons not to test smoke detectors and choosing instead to do nothing.

    While I would wholeheartedly agree that we as generalist home inspectors are not (by virtue of time or compensation) in a position to conduct all (or even some) of the technically exhaustive inspection and testing methods described in Chapter 10 of NFPA 72, I would also point out that it is not required of us by the NFPA 72 when inspecting one- and-two family dwellings per 10.4.3.2.


    What then does apply from the NFPA 72 in regard to inspection and testing of smoke detectors in one- and two-family dwellings as far as a generalist home inspector (acting as the surrogate for the homeowner/prospective buyer) is concerned?

    Well, lets take a look at 10.4.4 which says… "Single- and Multiple-Station Smoke Alarms. Homeowners shall inspect and test smoke alarms and all connected appliances in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions at least monthly."

    Now how do manufacturer’s say to test their "Single-and Multiple-Station Smoke Alarms"? It typically involves pressing the manufacturer supplied "Test" button which causes a nice loud audible response from the unit being tested (and from its interconnected units when applicable) if the unit test has been successful.

    If the homeowner can be expected to handle that much, then I expect that we can as well considering its not that complicated a process.

    Keep in mind that it is always up to you (the generalist home inspector) to manage your client’s expectations regarding the level of inspection and testing you conduct on their behalf. If you feel the need to make it perfectly clear to your client that your evaluation is not a technically exhaustive one, then by all means do so.

    I would also point out that, as generalist home inspectors, we do not routinely inspect any system or component in the home in a technically exhaustive manner so why should household smoke detectors be expected to be any different?

    Just where does the presumed expectation in that regard come from? Is it because smoke detectors are so critical to life safety issues and there is a fear of liability if we do anything to them at all? What about the liability of having done nothing at all?

    I must be missing something here so someone please educate me.

    In the meantime…Here’s a couple of other relevant points from Chapter 10 that other have already brought up. I will add them here so you will have some code references in case your interested…

    10.4.6 Replacement of Smoke Alarms in One- and Two-Family Dwellings. Unless otherwise recommended by the manufacturer, single- and multiple-Station smoke alarms installed in one-and two-family dwellings shall be replaced when they fail to respond to operability tests, but shall not remain in service longer than 10 years from the date of manufacture.

    And…

    10.4.7 Battery Replacement. Where batteries are used as a source of energy, they shall be replaced in accordance with the recommendations of the alarm equipment manufacturer.


    Last edited by Phillip Stojanik; 04-12-2007 at 07:28 AM. Reason: Dreaded typos

  21. #21
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    Default Re: smoke alarms wired together

    Good post Phillip.
    Jim

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

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