October 2015: Fire Safety
Ask The Inspector
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Q. What fire safety items will my home inspector check around the house I plan to buy?
A. Your inspector may comment on any number of fire safety issues, as a key component of a home inspection is safety. Here are 12 of the more common fire safety items your home inspector should note:
- The presence of smoke detectors. Depending on the circumstances, the inspector may not press the “test” button on smoke detectors. If detectors are wired together or to a security company, then pressing the test button (without having the system deactivation code) could cause the fire department to be called.
- If the inspector has access to and can peer into dryer vents, then he may note that buildup of lint could be a potential fire hazard.
- The inspector should check the chimney flue for creosote buildup, which would warrant concern.
- An exposed incandescent light bulb inside a closet (near clothing/shelving, etc.) is considered a fire hazard.
- Curtains or draperies blocking heat registers can pose a fire hazard.
- Any over-fusing in an electrical panel is a fire hazard. An over-fused circuit is a one that is protected from over-current by a fuse or circuit breaker that is oversized for the capacity of the circuit conductors.
- Too many appliances or cords plugged in to an electrical outlet.
- Aluminum branch wiring — whenever this is discovered, the inspector should recommend that the system be fully inspected by a qualified, licensed electrician.
- A door leading from the garage to the house should be fire-rated and perhaps self-closing.
- Most inspectors use gas detectors during the inspection, and any indication of a gas leak would be a concern.
- If there is a vantage point, the inspector would hope to find a “fire stop” in the space that fireplace flue occupies and the next floor above.
- Any hole or breech in wall of a garage and next to the living space is a potential fire hazard.
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