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Don’t Let Your Home Sale Go Up in Smoke!

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Requirements When Selling

Note– Changes were made after the release of this blog and were noted in a more recent post, Changes to the Massachusetts Fire Code Effective Today-December 1st, 2016.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectorThe Department of Fire Services requires that prior to the sale of one and two family residences built before January 1, 1975, the seller must install approved smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in specific locations throughout the property.  If a home was built or underwent renovation after that date, the building permit date will determine the smoke and carbon monoxide detector requirements.  Regardless of Massachusetts General Law, most mortgage companies require all sellers to obtain and provide a Certificate of Compliance to process a transaction.  Local fire departments will inspect the property and issue this certificate to sellers.

Staying on top of these requirement during the selling process will prevent unnecessary and costly holdups making the transaction much more efficient for everyone involved.  If you are about the embark on this process, read on so that you can be ahead of the game.

 “Massachusetts General Law, chapter 148 section 26F and the Comprehensive Fire Safety Code 527 CMR 1.00:13.7.4 mandates that upon the sale or transfer of certain homes, the seller must install approved smoke detectors. These requirements apply to residences that were built or modified prior to creation of the Massachusetts State Building Code (January 1, 1975). If a building was built or has undergone renovation, addition or modification after Jan. 1, 1975, the date the building permit was issued determines the smoke detector requirements of the building code.”

What does this mean?

If your residence was built before January 1, 1975, there are a range of guidelines that you should meet. These are only guidelines though because the exact requirements could vary depending on when the building permit for your property was issued and if any renovations since have taken place.

Before January, 1975, smoke detectors rules are as follows:
  • One on every livable level of the building
  • One on the ceiling at each end of a stairway.
  • One on every single level of the residence and one must be located within 10 feet of each bedroom door.
  • The detectors need to be either battery powered, hardwired or some combination of the two.
  • Photoelectric detectors are required if placed within 20 feet of a kitchen or a bathroom.
  • Dual detectors or separate photoelectric and ionization detectors are required if placed outside of 20 feet of a kitchen or bathroom.
Before January, 1975, carbon monoxide rules are as follows:
  • One on every single level of the residence and one must be located within 10 feet of each bedroom door.
  • Photoelectric smoke & Carbon Monoxide (Combination Detectors) may be used if placed within 20 feet of the kitchen
  • Alarms must have a combination of tone and voice alarms to differentiate between the type of emergency
  • Battery powered, plug-in, hardwired or system type of alarms are acceptable.

Typical one and two family residences built or modified after January 1, 1975 have similar requirements with slight differences.

For homes after this date:
  • There must be a detector per 1,200 square feet of living space per level.
  • Must be hardwired and interconnected with battery backup.
  • All smoke detectors must be photoelectric.
  • Combination photoelectric smoke and carbon monoxide detectors may be used anywhere.
  • After 2008, carbon monoxide detectors must be hardwired.
  • Heat detectors are required in any garage attached to or under the residence after 2008.

To inquire about the specific regulations for your residence please check out mass.gov.

What do I do?

Once you have gone through your check list and made sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are up to date how do you get your certificate of compliance?

After you have a closing date on your home, contact your local fire department to have them inspect your home. Prior to their arrival, be sure that your street number is visible and that you have the proper type of detectors. After passing the inspection they will issue your Certificate of Compliance, which is generally required at
closing.fire-inspection-w-sign

Remember, always do monthly checks and replace the batteries twice a year.  It’s recommended that you check the batteries every time daylight savings rolls around, which is coming up this Sunday!  All detectors must be replaced after 10 years.  For more in-depth information about the topic and to make sure you have the correct type of detectors, visit mass.gov.

This post is to provide sellers with an idea of current smoke and carbon monoxide detector requirements- please contact your local fire department for specific rules and regulations for your town.