Smoke detectors are a device that detects the presence of smoke in the air of your home, logically triggering the assumption of fire. An alarm will sound off to alert residents of a potential fire. What are smoke detector requirements in California?
Smoke detectors in California are required in all one-or two-unit dwellings, lodging houses, apartment complexes, hotels, motels, condominiums, stock cooperatives, time-share projects, and dwelling units of multiple-unit dwelling complexes, as well as factory-built housing.
Household smoke detectors, often known as smoke alarms, emit an audible and/or visual alarm when they detect smoke.
They can be standalone battery-powered equipment or a network of hardwired devices with battery backup.
A smoke detector is standard equipment in virtually every American household and is designed to detect fire at its earliest stages of development to protect you and your family.
The very high-frequency sound emitted by the smoke alarm warns us should a fire start.
Keep these things in mind:
- The smoke alarm should be positioned in the hallway or other easily accessible locations, so as not to interfere with sleep or activities.
- In order for a smoke detector to do its job effectively, make it a point to change its batteries on a regular basis.
- A smoke detector should be mounted on the ceiling or high on the wall—about six inches below the ceiling level.
- The type of battery should be compatible with your smoke alarm and should be tested regularly to make sure that it functions properly when you need it most.
- Replacing the batteries in all of your smoke detectors yearly is the best practice to ensure they will always be working in a time of need.
Smoke detectors are made to let you know when a battery is getting low by making a chirping sound.
This is your “low-battery” indicator letting you know you need to replace the battery in your smoke alarm.
If you have any reason to suspect that your smoke detectors are not working properly, should schedule an appointment with a professional.
If your home is older and you do not have electrical smoke detectors, you can simply purchase a new smoke detector at any retail store.
- What are Smoke Detector Requirements in California?
- Should You Put a Smoke Alarm in the Kitchen?
- What Rooms Should Have Smoke Detectors in California?
- How Long Do 9V Batteries Last in Smoke Detectors?
- Does the Fire Department Give Out Free Smoke Detectors?
- What is an Interlinked Smoke Alarm?
- Be Prepared & Have a Plan
What are Smoke Detector Requirements in California?
In the state of California, all one or two-unit residences, lodging houses, apartment complexes, hotels, motels, condominiums, stock cooperatives, time-share projects, dwelling units of multiple-unit dwelling complexes, and factory-built housing are required to have smoke detectors.
No person shall market, distribute, offer for sale, or sell any smoke alarm that is not operated by a non-replaceable, non-removable battery that is capable of powering the smoke alarm for at least 10 years.
All used manufactured homes, used mobile homes, and used multifamily manufactured homes that are sold or rented on or after January 1, 2020, are required to be equipped with smoke alarms.
Further, landlords are required to provide working smoke detectors to their tenants. Tenants are expected to replace smoke detector batteries as needed.
All smoke alarms in newly constructed residences must be powered by the building’s electrical system.
It is understood that existing residences will have battery-operated smoke alarms.
How to Choose a Smoke Alarm
Make sure that smoke alarms have an independent testing lab’s label, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Different sensor technologies are used in smoke alarms:
Ionization Smoke Alarms are more effective against fast-flaming fires, which consume and spread materials quickly. Paper fires or cooking fires could be the cause of these blazes.
Photoelectric Smoke Alarms are better at detecting slow-burning fires that smolder for hours before bursting into flames. Cigarettes burning in couches or mattresses are common causes of these types of fires.
Ionization/Photoelectric Combo Units are available and allow early detection of both forms of fires.
Should You Put a Smoke Alarm in the Kitchen?
For fear of a smoke detector going off when cooking, most people avoid installing one in the kitchen. Should you put a smoke alarm in the kitchen?
You should put a smoke alarm near the kitchen making sure to keep the detector at least 10 feet away from the stove or oven to reduce the number of false alerts.
A smoke detector is essential in any kitchen because fires frequently begin there whether you are in the kitchen or not.
Smoke detector placement could be challenging in a small kitchen. The smoke detector may be placed immediately outside the kitchen area, 10 feet or more from the stove if that is your only option.
What Rooms Should Have Smoke Detectors in California?
Smoke detectors are the most effective way to prevent death by fire. They serve as early warnings, alerting you of the danger in time for you to take precautionary action. What rooms should have smoke detectors in California?
Smoke detectors are required in every bedroom and outside of each separate sleeping area in California. The detector must be installed on the ceiling or wall, as high as possible above the door. It is recommended that each living area and hallway also have a smoke detector.
California law mandates that smoke alarms be installed in each bedroom as well as outside every sleeping area.
Smoke alarms are required by the California State Building Code to be installed in the corridor outside the bedrooms, in each bedroom, and on every level, regardless of whether that floor has a bedroom.
A smoke alarm must be installed in each bedroom, as well as being centrally located in the corridor or area outside the bedroom, for any new construction, extensions, changes, or repairs after August 14, 1992, that cost more than $1,000 and for which a permit is necessary. (California’s Health and Safety Code, Section 13113.7.)
For more information about specific rules for smoke detectors in your state, contact your local fire department.
If you live in an apartment complex, check with management to learn more about their fire safety rules.
Local jurisdictions are allowed to enact stricter ordinances so it would be best to check with your town or county officials.
Smoke alarms are not required in every room of a home but are recommended for all areas.
How Long Do 9V Batteries Last in Smoke Detectors?
Smoke detectors are portable, battery-operated devices that use a 9v battery to power these devices. How long do 9v batteries last in smoke detectors?
The average 9v battery should last between 7-10 years in a smoke detector and is considered a heavy-duty battery. The 9-volt battery is capable of remaining essentially unchanged for many years while still maintaining its ability to function properly in a smoke detector.
A 9v battery lasts relatively long, but the time frame in which 9v batteries remain effective can vary widely depending on other factors.
9v batteries will begin to degrade over time and should be replaced every 7-10 years, but they do not have a set expiration date. 9v batteries can perform 5-7 years before degrading significantly.
Even though a 9v battery is capable of lasting for many years, it is still strongly recommended to get into the habit of changing your smoke detector batteries every year.
Does the Fire Department Give Out Free Smoke Detectors?
Keep in mind that free smoke detectors are typically low-end quality products and not highly recommended. The last thing you would want is to risk lives by trying to save a few dollars here and there.
Investing in a good-quality smoke detector can’t be stressed enough.
If you can’t afford a smoke detector, free and discounted units are available. The best places to look for free smoke detectors include:
- Fire departments
- Social services offices
- Police stations
- Churches or religious organizations that help the low-income population.
You could also check with local area organizations that provide free items. For example, free smoke detectors are often given out by Home Depot.
What is an Interlinked Smoke Alarm?
There is a new type of smoke detector on the market. An interlinked smoke alarm sends a signal to other interlinked alarms in your house so that when it sounds, they all sound.
If you put interlinked smoke detectors on every level of your home and interlink them with each other, then when one goes off the others will follow.
This means that you can have interlinked smoke alarms in your home without having to worry about one of them failing to sound when it detects fire or smoke because they all come on at the same time.
If interlinked smoke detectors are interlinked with non-interlinked ones, then they will also work as individual interlinked smoke alarms and operate as they normally would.
The interlinked smoke alarm is a popular choice for those who have children or pets as it can reduce the risk of a fire spreading from one room to another.
If you interlink smoke detectors with each other, then anyone interlinked smoke detector that sounds will cause all interlinked alarms in your house to sound together.
The interlinked smoke alarm is a wireless interlink, so each interlinked smoke detector can be individually interlinked with each other regardless of where they are in your house.
The only limit to the amount you interlink is how many interlinked smoke detectors you can fit.
It is important to remember that interlinked smoke alarms are not interlinked with your existing fire alarm system, only interlinked smoke detectors.
An interlink does not protect any areas outside of the interlink and can be easily disabled.
The interlinking technology uses a reliable wireless signal which has been in use in interlinked smoke alarms for many years.
This wireless interlink operates on the same frequency as your mobile phones and tablets, so turning one interlinked smoke alarm on or off can also turn all interlinked smoke detectors on and off (providing they are interlinked with each other).
Each interlinked smoke alarm can interlink to multiple smoke detectors, so if you interlink smoke alarms with each other in your home then there will be no way that one interlinked smoke alarm can unintentionally turn off another interlinked smoke detector.
This interlink technology is known as OneLink.
All interlinked devices are compatible with all other interlinked devices regardless of which manufacturer they are.
For interlinked smoke detectors to interlink with each other, they must be interlinked with OneLink technology.
The interlink signal is wirelessly transmitted between interlinked devices.
If you interlink interlinked smoke alarms together, it means that when one goes off, all the others in your house will sound at the same time.
Combined with interlinked smoke detectors, interlinked smoke alarms are often installed on every level of the house including kitchens, living rooms, and even basements.
The interlink signal is transmitted through walls which makes interlinking smoke detectors possible. The interlink has a range of up to 30 meters in open spaces and no more than
Be Prepared & Have a Plan
Select an Alarm
- Purchase smoke alarms that have been tested by a third-party laboratory.
- Smoke alarms can be battery-powered or wired to operate on household electricity with a backup battery.
- For each level of a home, one alarm is advised.
- Keep alarms within ten feet of the family’s sleeping quarters and four to twelve inches of the ceiling. Ceiling-mounted alarms should be placed within four inches of the nearest wall.
- To avoid nuisance alerts, keep smoke alarms away from kitchens, bathrooms, and garages.
Keeping Smoke Alarms in Working Order
- Never turn off an alarm. Replace the battery or the alarm if it “chirps” repeatedly.
- Check smoke alarms on a monthly basis.
- Replace alkaline batteries once a year. Many new alarms include 10-year lithium-ion batteries that endure the whole life of the device.
- Replace smoke alarm units every ten years.
Creating a Plan of Action
- Everyone should be able to exit a room in at least two ways.
- Keep things that could obstruct your route out of windows and doorways.
- Agree on a meeting spot outside for family members once they’ve escaped.
- Once you’re out, don’t go back! Call 911 using a neighbor’s phone.
- At least twice a year, practice your escape route.
Disclaimer: This article is provided to you as a courtesy and is in no way intended as legal, health, or safety advice. You are highly encouraged to contact your local fire department for more details on smoke detector requirements in your state.
Trina Greenfield, Author
SmackDown Media LLC
About the Author:
Trina Greenfield, the owner of SmackDown Media LLC, is passionate about providing information to those interested in the air quality in and around their homes. Trina writes content about things she’s passionate about, such as safe, in-home air, educational platforms for children and adults, as well as all things family-related.