How to Look

at a House


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We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

    There has been some confusion about the intent of the law. Here’s what it does not mandate regarding existing smoke alarms:

  1. 1)It applies only to battery-powered smoke alarms. You do not have to—and should not—replace an existing hard-wired smoke alarm with a 10-year battery alarm. It is a good idea, however, to replace an older hard-wired smoke alarm (one that is connected to the home’s electrical system) with one that also has a battery backup.

  2. 2)Although it allows homeowners that are doing minor alterations to an existing home to install 10-year battery alarms, instead of having to update to a hard-wired and interconnected system, you still may choose to upgrade to the hard-wired and interconnected system. It is significantly more expensive to retrofit in an existing home, but a superior fire alarm system.

  3. 3)The law does not apply to the building code requirements for smoke alarms in new construction, which remain the same.

   Although the 10-year battery alarms are available with either an ionization or photoelectric sensor system, most experts recommend the photoelectric sensor, which is faster and more consistent in responding to the first wisps of smoke from a fire in your home.


While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.

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