It happens in March. Yep, it’s time again to change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time or back from Daylight Savings Time — I’m never quite sure which is the real time. Doesn’t matter. March 11th is the day and even if you were to forget, within a day or two, you’ll figure it out when you are late for work a few times. Spring forward – move that clock up by one hour. Instead of it being 8am, it’s actually 9 – yikes, you’re late for work!
Ok, back to the real matter at hand. Smoke detectors or smoke alarms, one and the same and I’ll bet most everyone has at least one in their home right now. May not have a working battery in it, but still, a smoke alarm. Might seem like a boring subject but better boring than burning, right?
In the state of Vermont, there are specific rules and guidelines as to what kind, how many and where smoke detectors are to be placed when a property is sold. A commercial or rental property will have slightly different rules than a single family so for this article I’ll stick to the single family homes. You can find the certificate and the specific requirements as well as other great fire and safety information by going to FireSafety.Vermont.gov.
At the closing table, a Seller will be signing a Certificate of Compliance that confirms the presence of working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The Buyer will also sign this form acknowledging that the detectors are in place. As Realtors, we should be informing our Sellers, at the time they list their homes, as to what is required regarding this rule.
So what is required? Photoelectric smoke alarms. Get that straight – PHOTOELECTRIC. Most of us have Ionization smoke alarms. So what’s the difference you may ask? Ionization smoke alarms generally are more effective at detecting flaming fires, which consume combustibles quickly and spread rapidly. Sources of these fires might include paper burning in a wastebasket or grease fires on a stove.
Photoelectric smoke alarms are more effective at detecting smoldering fires that can take hours before bursting into flames.Sources of these fires might include a cigarette smoldering in a couch or bedding.
Let me give you a personal example of the difference between these two — both effective in their own way. One winter afternoon, my husband and I were relaxing in our living room with a cozy fire burning in our woodstove. We live in a small, modified ‘A’ frame with the living room in the back of the house and kitchen in the front with a hallway and bathroom in between.
Suddenly one of our smoke alarms started going off. It just so happened to be the one Photoelectric alarm that I had put in our kitchen. We both jumped up and ran around the house looking for the source of the alarm. Smoke, fire, something! Nothing. Not even an odor. I ran upstairs and back down again and was just about to call the fire department in case there was some kind of issue with the electrical service when I looked over at the woodstove.
Sitting on top of that wood stove was a small basket that had a camera and several pairs of binoculars in it. No flames, no smoke, no odor — just slowly melting plastic in that basket — probably within minutes of bursting into flames. All I could think about was what might have happened if we had gone to bed and that basket either burst into flames or worse yet, just sent out poisonous gases from that melting plastic. Scary.
What I found to be most interesting was that the photoelectric alarm, situated in another part of our house, detected that smoldering basket but the fully functioning, Ionization alarm that was at the top of the ‘A’ frame peak — directly overhead from the woodstove — never went off. Needless to say, I was sold.
It’s March. It’s time to change your clocks forward and it’s time to change those batteries in your smoke detectors. While you’re at it, buy yourself some Photoelectric smoke detectors and a few carbon monoxide ones as well. It really could save the lives of you and your loved ones one day.