Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Detection

When you are going to buy or sell a home, fire, and safety inspections are very important. Your local home inspection team can provide an in-depth breakdown of the electric wiring and smoke and carbon monoxide detection conditions. Additionally, having someone who is highly trained to identify issues within these two systems is key. Let’s take a look at smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in Vermont and New Hampshire.

Smoke detectors should be installed in every room.

How Is It Inspected

There are a few ways that we can adequately inspect a smoke and carbon monoxide detection system. The main area that is looked at relates to the state code and if each system meets those requirements.

  • Type of detector-ensure that all bedrooms have smoke detectors. For Vermont, this means all are on photoelectric principles. Ionization detectors are not allowed in Vermont. We also ensure that hallways to the bedrooms have smoke and carbon monoxide combination alarms.
  • How old is it-any smoke detector that is older than 10 years should be replaced immediately as it is no longer reliable. Also, the same is true for carbon monoxide alarms that are between 5-7 years old. Checking for the date stamped on the bottom is important.
  • Location– at least one smoke and carbon monoxide combination detector should be located on each level of the home and one should be installed outside the bedrooms. Also keep in mind that each state code and building code is different. Remember to do your research and ask questions.

Updating Detection Systems in Vermont And New Hampshire

Believe it or not, Vermont and New Hampshire have varying codes when it comes to fire and safety. Vermont fire and safety code requires that all smoke alarms are photoelectric. So, when a homeowner goes to sell their home, they must update their smoke alarms to be photoelectric devices.

Ionization types are not allowed any longer despite them being available for sale.  The sale of these smoke alarms should be banned in the state but they are not.  The old UL standards that were used for these ionization-style devices are total garbage.  

Legislation Issues

New Hampshire does not currently have this code in place. However, it is highly recommended that all homes update their smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detection systems regularly. It is as important as checking the batteries every few months.

That does not always mean that it gets done. We have done several post-sale inspections recently in Vermont where these devices did not get updated by the sellers.  I was recently in a home that sold in Vermont and it had the original 1990 smoke alarms installed. None of them can be relied upon as functional.

New Hampshire State’s motto is Live Free Or Die.  Unfortunately, that occurred in Lyman New Hampshire in late January 2019.  A family with no functional carbon monoxide detectors was killed by their carbon monoxide. Tragically, the family died in their sleep. 

Combustion Exhausts

In our area, we evaluate combustion exhausts to be certain that they cannot become blocked by snow.  We expect to see at least 16 inches to the ground, and not to be located in an area that can receive snow shedding from a roof.  Also, more and more boilers and combustion devices are high efficiencies, use PVC and direct vent outside of the house.  A lot of homes that are retrofitted with these devices were originally designed with chimneys.  This obviously is going to create ongoing problems for snow and ice blocking these exhausts.

How Much Does It Cost

Luckily for you as the homeowner, it is relatively inexpensive to install a smoke detector or carbon monoxide detector. The price tag goes up a lot if you are going to hire a professional to hardwire a system.

Other Recommended Maintenance

While maintaining the smoke detection and carbon monoxide detection systems is important, also take a look at your radon detector, if you have one. Keep in mind that if you sell your home, the radon mitigation will be negotiated between the buyer and seller.

If you have a fireplace, make sure you maintain it. Fireplace maintenance includes safety, removing the ash, cleaning the creosote, chimney, and chimney cap, testing the fireplace, burning seasoned wood, installing a glass door and blower.

Lastly, most people use their garage quite a bit. If you are having trouble with the garage doors, you can bypass the sensors. This can be done by propping open the door, putting the garage door on manual mode, and opening and closing the door manually.

When Do I Call A Professional

When it comes to your health and safety, you should consider a professional for your carbon monoxide and smoke detector setup. Also, having someone who knows what they are doing is vital. Making sure that your system is up to date and working properly is key.


In some states like Vermont, it is the seller’s responsibility for making sure that all detectors are up to code at the time of sale. Use your local home inspection team to conduct a home inspection and provide you with a reputable fire and safety company to complete this project.  Twin State inspections will check your system when conducting a quality home inspection in the Twin State areas of VT and NH.