All home inspections should include the inspection of all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Smoke alarms should be located in the following areas: In each sleeping room; outside each separate sleeping area; on each additional story of the dwelling, including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics.
Most smoke alarms (smoke detectors) have a useful life of 7 to 10 years. After this time period, the detecting elements start to wear out. Newer smoke detectors are more sensitive and more reliable. Homeowners should consider changing their smoke detectors every 7 to 10 years, batteries should be changed at least every year. Most newer homes have combo “hardwired” (with battery backup) smoke detectors. The smoke detectors are wired to a 120 Volt circuit as well as have a backup 9 Volt battery (for when power fails).
Carbon monoxide detectors/alarms should also be inspected for functionality and correct placement. Batteries should be replaced at least every year and the units changed after five years of use. Any dwelling that has a fuel fired heater or appliance, a fireplace, or an attached garage is required to have carbon monoxide detectors. If any of these conditions occur, the home must have an operational carbon monoxide alarm installed within fifteen feet of the entrance to each room lawfully used for sleeping purposes. Do not install carbon monoxide detectors directly above or beside fuel-burning appliances, as appliances may emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon start-up.
Combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are also available. The should be installed in all areas required for either a smoke or smoke alarm/detector.