Property management companies are routinely questioned by landlords about the cost of replacing smoke and CO detectors when they ‘appear’ perfectly fine.
The life expectancy of smoke alarms is generally ten years and CO alarms are seven years after which their sensors begin to lose connectivity and sensitivity. The test button only confirms that the battery, electronics, and alert system are working; it doesn’t mean that the “sensors” are working.
Tenants who cook a lot, smoke, leave doors and windows open all the time, don’t keep a tidy home, etc. will have more pollutants in the air that can interfere with the sensors. So, to protect the property, and more importantly, the occupants, it is wise to reduce the life expectancy by half and replace all smoke alarms with a ten year lithium battery every five years and replace CO detectors every three years with a plugin CO detector to ensure the correct height (about 2 to 3 feet from the floor).
California recently implemented a new law that requires landlords or their property managers to inspect all detectors in the property every six months. We also email every tenant each month for them to personally check their smoke and CO alarms to ensure they are working as well.
This simple process of updating alarms may prevent a wrongful death suit and/or save your property from burning to the ground as well as other scenarios – all that could have been easily avoided with proper property management.
Safety is king!