Rest Easy With Up-To-Code Smoke Detectors

When a home is sold in Massachusetts, it is Massachusetts law that the smoke detectors be compliant with current smoke & carbon monoxide detector laws. In general, it is up to the Seller to review their smoke/CO detectors, be sure they are up to code, and have them inspected by the local fire inspector to have them certified as being compliant. The Seller is obligated to present the smoke compliance certificate at the closing.

But what if you’re not buying or selling a home? Are YOUR smoke/CO detectors compliant with today’s law? Replacing the batteries each year is great, but that does not necessarily mean that your detectors are in compliance with today’s laws. For greater peace of mind and to help safeguard your family and guests, you should review your smoke and CO detectors and bring them up to code – especially if your home is more than 10 years old. Massachusetts provides a complete guide to the smoke/CO detector law (for one and two-family homes) that is an essential resource to help you do this, but here are some of the highlights of the law just to give you a brief overview:

As you probably know, there are many different types of smoke detectors. Some are hard-wired with battery backup and some operate strictly on battery. Some use photoelectric technology and some use ionization technology. Some use both. The exact type of smoke detectors you need depends on the year your house was built and or renovated. The Massachusetts guide will tell you EXACTLY what you need.

  • In general, homes built before 1975 and not renovated or modified afterwards can use detectors that are battery-powered. The new battery powered detectors feature 10-year sealed, non-rechargeable, non-replaceable batteries. They do not use 9-volt batteries like the older ones. They must feature photoelectric technology. CO detectors must be present on every level of the home, including habitable portions of the basement and attic.
  • Homes built or substantially renovated between 1975 and August 27, 1997 must be hardwired and interconnected. The technology utilized (photoelectric or ionization) depends on where they are located. In general, photoelectric technology can be used everywhere, whereas ionization technology can be used if the alarm is more than 20 feet from a kitchen or bathroom. CO detectors must be present on every level of the home, including habitable portions of the basement and attic.
  • Homes built or substantially renovated after August 27, 1997 have even stricter requirements, particularly in terms of number of units required. They must be hardwired and interconnected with battery backup. Like the rule above, photoelectric technology can be used everywhere, whereas ionization technology can be used if the alarm is more than 20 feet from a kitchen or bathroom. CO detectors must be present on every level of the home, including habitable portions of the basement and attic.
  • There are two more categories of homes that dictate the smoke/CO detector requirements, and those are for homes built or substantially renovated after January 1, 2008, and those built or substantially renovated after February 4, 2011. The requirements of these homes are even stricter, particularly with respect to where you can use photoelectric, ionization, or both technologies.

The exact number and placement of both the smoke and CO detectors also depends on the age of the house and should be fully understood. For the COMPLETE set of rules that pertain to your home based on its age, please consult the official guide to the Massachusetts Smoke/CO Detector LawThis blog post is not intended to be used as a substitute for the guide. Consult your local fire department if you have questions about any part of the law.They will be more than happy to assist you.