Detection – Staying Up to Code

The laws for carbon and smoke detectors in homes are ever-changing and it can be difficult to keep up with them. At Feel Good Property Management, we know the importance of making sure your home is in compliance with those laws for the safety of you, your family, and your tenants.

The California Building Code states that one smoke alarm should be placed on each floor in non-sleeping areas. In addition, one smoke alarm must be installed in each room where sleeping occurs and one smoke alarm should be located in each hallway that leads directly to sleeping rooms.

The California SB 745 law was updated July 1, 2015. It states that all old smoke detectors must be replaced with a tamper free battery operated smoke detector, with a 10-year life rating. Meaning, if you have a detector with a replaceable battery, you have to toss it and replace it with one that has a sealed battery pack. And that goes for all the smoke detectors in your home. There is one exception: Hardwired smoke detectors can qualify but, they must have a label indicating when they were installed. In addition, they must have a built in “hush feature.” This way, if you burn the dinner, you can “hush” the alarm without ripping it off the wall and tossing it out the door.

Here is a quick checklist for your smoke detectors from Landlords Voice.

  • Must be installed in every bedroom.
  • Must be installed in hallways leading to bedrooms, centrally located outside sleeping areas.
  • Must be installed on every level/floor, including basements.
  • If mounted on the ceiling, should be 4 inches from the wall.
  • If mounted on the wall, should be 4-12 inches from the ceiling.
  • Do NOT install near draft areas, such as windows and vents.

A little law many landlords do not know is that it is the landlord’s responsibility to check the detectors since they are now placed with secured batteries. With that being said, a landlord may ask tenants to check them and update the landlord if the detector is non-respondent. But, if you are a landlord, remember to have interior home inspections often enough that you are taking on the primary role of liability in making sure you are in compliance with the law.

For CA SB 183 on Carbon Monoxide Detectors, as of January 1, 2013, you will need to install one on each floor of your home if you have an attached garage and/or fossil fuel burning appliances (i.e. gas stove, heater, water heater, gas fireplace, gas BBQ, etc.). The Fire Marshall indicates there is no plan for 10-year life tamper free Carbon Monoxide Detectors (yet). And although their website does say for maximum protection, place on in each sleeping room, it is not yet required by law.

Article by Bethany Luchetta, Feel Good Property Management Broker