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04-17-2008, 10:16 PM #1
Wired smoke Alarms required in older homes
There seem to be some regional differences in practices. This is a mostly rural area with minimal code enforcement outside the city except for electrical in recent years. Did an inspection on an old house (1910-1920 or so), and found active knob & tube wiring in attic. No big deal, it looked pretty clean (no bad splicing etc), except that there was some insulation covering some of it in the newer attic area. The electrician agreed with everything I said. He saw no major problem unless it was covered with insulation and suggested an upgrade of wiring (the main panel and wiring in most other areas of house had already been updated).
However, if he filed a permit (as would be required for upgrading wiring), he would also now have to install hard wired smoke alarms in the bedrooms, which would bump the cost up a several more hundred dollars (his price did not seem unreasonable). This is per the state electrical inspector. I should mention that this local inspector is relatively new. The prior inspector retired last fall, and quite frankly, the previous inspector was rather lax in my opinion. So I can't tell if this partly due to a having a new inspector.
I called the (new) electrical inspector, and he said yes. If an electrician filed permit for other work being done (such as upgrading knob & tube wiring) he would also be required to install hard wired smoke alarms in all appropriate locations as long as it did not require removing drywall etc, and wiring could be laid in accessible spaces like crawlspaces or attics.
I don't question what he says, IRC code does appear to require the addition of hard wired smoke detectors when doing some degree of repair work or updates.
How is the code being enforced in other areas? It makes sense in some ways from a safety point of view. But it can add a fairly significant cost to electrical repairs that I often need to recommend (for example, I commonly find panels that are not properly grounded or bonded). Or, the work is never done, or they hire Uncle Bob to do unlicensed work to avoid filing a permit.
Here's the IRC code
R313.2 Smoke detection and notification
R313.2.1 Alterations, repairs and additions. When alterations, repairs or additions requiring a permit occur, or when one or more sleeping rooms are added or created in existing dwellings, the individual dwelling unit shall be equipped with smoke alarms located as required for new dwellings; the smoke alarms shall be interconnected and hard wired.
R105.1 Required. Any owner or authorized agent who intends to construct, enlarge, alter, repair, move, demolish or change the occupancy of a building or structure, or to erect, install, enlarge, alter, repair, remove, convert or replace any electrical, . . . . etc.
R105.2 Work exempt from permit. Permits shall not be required for the following.
Repairs and maintenance: A permit shall not be required for minor repair work, including the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.
R105.2.2 Repairs. . . . .
Such repairs shall not include the cutting away of any wall, partition or portion thereof, . . . .
1) Do other inspector typically find that hard wired smoke alarms are being required when doing minor to moderate electrial repair/updates?
2) What in your experience is the type of work that does require a permit to be filed?
04-18-2008, 01:47 AM #2
Re: Wired smoke Alarms required in older homes
"I called the (new) electrical inspector, and he said yes. If an electrician filed permit for other work being done (such as upgrading knob & tube wiring) he would also be required to install hard wired smoke alarms in all appropriate locations as long as it did not require removing drywall etc, and wiring could be laid in accessible spaces like crawlspaces or attics."
I'd say the new guy is on the ball. That's my interpretation of exception #1 in R312.2.1 .
"1) Do other inspector typically find that hard wired smoke alarms are being required when doing minor to moderate electrial repair/updates?"
I'm sure they're required following all the rules you posted, but all I can really tell you is that the permitted 2nd floor remodel on my own 1927 house did require installing hard-wired, interconnected smokies, in the new rooms as well as the main floor and basement. Although the main floor smokie is mounted on a lathe and plaster ceiling, they were able to wire to it while the contractors had the upstairs sub-floor removed. I wasn't here when the city electrical inspector did his thing so I don't know if he checked them.
And...I do see them on other major remodels.
"2) What in your experience is the type of work that does require a permit to be filed?"
Define "require". My experience around here is that anything that's obvious from the street gets a permit and not much else.