New laws for smoke detectors in Maryland

new smoke detector

An example of the new 10 year smoke detector where the battery cannot be removed

A lot of homeowners have overlooked the new law for smoke detectors in Maryland that went into effect this year. The law applies to all homes in Maryland including condos and townhomes. The  requirements of Maryland’s smoke detector law vary depending on the date that your home was built. Basically recently built homes or those that are undergoing major renovation and  or expansion must have built in hard wire smoke detectors with a ten year battery back up.  In this case a good and dependable contractor is going to know what is required of your home. The purpose of this article is to address the requirements of homes that are older. In the past, the law required all homes did not require hard wired smoke detector  to have battery powered smoke detectors installed. These detectors are usually installed by the homeowner. The smoke detectors had to be is specific locations depending on the location of bedrooms and number of levels in a home. Under the new Maryland law “all” home owners with battery powered smoke detectors must replace the older type 9 volt battery powered smoke detectors with new, 10 year non-removable battery powered detectors that also have a hush button.

 

The reason behind this is to correct two serious and common issues occurring in households that have battery powered detectors. The first is that the average life of a smoke detector  is about 1o years. Many homes now have detectors that were installed over ten years ago and may be defective or just non functioning. The other issue is that sometimes high humidity or cooking smoke will set off a smoke alarm. Residents will then sometimes remove the battery to turn off the alarm and forget to replace it. The problem with both of these issues is that they usually are not noticed until after the fire department puts out the fire.  The new required detectors will have a permanent battery that cannot be removed but will have a “hush” button where you can turn off the detector for a short time. After that the detector will self reset.

Obsolete smoke detector

Do not install a smoke detector where you can remove the battery. This is now forbidden by Maryland law.

I know that some detectors can seem like a nuisance but since the 1970s home fire fatalities have been virtually halved. Much of this success is attributed to the general  installation of fire detectors nationwide in the past four decades. The new detectors will cost a little more than the older ones but anyone who has experienced a home fire knows how devastating it can be to you and your family. Detectors are worth it.  Note that if you are currently a landlord you must upgrade your smoke detectors upon changing tenants. Otherwise all homeowners and landlords must comply with this new requirements by 2018 at the latest. If you are considering putting your home on the market this year it probably is a good idea to upgrade your detectors beforehand. Although, they are not required as of yet, I have noticed many home inspectors flagging the old detectors and home purchasers are already asking sellers to comply when negotiating the contract. Not sure if you are in compliance? You can get a free fire safety inspection from  the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service by applying on line.

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