An average of 3,000 Americans die each year in home fires. Many of these deaths could have been prevented if occupants had working smoke alarms in their homes. Smoke alarm technology has advanced over the years and there are recent updates to Maryland’s Smoke Alarm Law. These updates are part of a nationwide trend to ensure new and replacement smoke alarms include the most effective technology available. Learn more about the updated Maryland smoke detector law.
Updates Ensure Your Safety
The updated Maryland smoke detector law mandates replacing battery-operated and hard-wired smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old. Failing to do so could result in a building code violation or denial of insurance coverage if your home were to catch on fire and outdated smoke detectors were still installed.
For existing homes, requirements are based on when the home was constructed. As a result, the requirements are sometimes confusing. Therefore, it is critical to determine when the house was built to determine the level and type of smoke alarms that are required.
If your home was built prior to 1975 or up to 1989, smoke alarms need to be upgraded to at least one approved smoke alarm on every level of the older home when one of the following occurs:
- The existing alarm is more than 10 years old.
- The existing alarm malfunctions.
- There is a change of tenant.
- A building permit is issued for an addition or renovation.
Ideally, smoke alarms should be hard-wired units. However, sealed battery-operated smoke alarms with long-life batteries and silent/hush features may be installed in locations of the home where hard-wired smoke alarms did not previously exist.
If your home was built after 1989, smoke alarms need to be replaced after 10 years from date of manufacture. They must be interconnected and AC powered with a battery back-up. However, the back-up battery is not required to be a 10 year long-life battery.
For new construction, Maryland’s law has simply been updated to correspond with the International Residential Code and NFPA 72, National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code. An AC powered, battery back-up smoke alarm is required in every bedroom, in the common area outside of the bedrooms, and on every other level of the dwelling unit. All of the required smoke alarms must be interconnected.
The Basics: What to Know
According to the January 2018 updates to the Maryland law:
- The law requires the replacement of battery only operated smoke alarms with sealed 10 year lithium-ion battery smoke alarm with silent/hush feature.
- All smoke alarms must be replaced when they are 10 years old. This applies to both hard-wired and battery-operated smoke alarms.
- It is never acceptable to remove required hard-wired smoke alarms and replace them with any type of battery-only operated device.
- Maryland’s new smoke alarm law does apply to real estate transactions. The residential property disclosure form provided to the purchaser of specified single-family residential real property must include whether the smoke alarms are over 10 years old. It also must include if the current detectors are battery-operated, that they are sealed, tamper-resistant units incorporating a silence/hush button and use long-life batteries.
Landlords of one-and two-dwelling units also face new requirements. They must upgrade battery smoke alarms to new, 10-year sealed battery units whenever there’s a change in occupancy or when those systems are 10 years old or malfunction. For buildings with more than two units, the legislation assigns tenants of those units with the responsibility for testing the smoke alarms and notifying their landlords of any problems. Where problems occur, the landlords are required to replace or repair the broken systems.
Contact Tim Kyle Electric, Heating & Cooling
Don’t neglect replacing outdated smoke alarms in your home, business, or apartment building. To ensure that they’ve been properly installed, you should have a professional take care of the initial addition and ask advice when it comes to any maintenance. Looking for a Walkersville electrician or an experienced professional in the greater Baltimore area? Contact Tim Kyle Electric, Heating & Cooling. Your family’s safety is our priority.