Smoke Detectors and Smoke Detector Location – A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Industry experts at the NFPA have determined that in

Smoke Detector

Smoke Detector

a typical home fire, you only have three minutes to escape.   There are many different brands of smoke alarms available on the market, but they fall under two basic types: ionization and photoelectric. Dual sensor smoke alarms are combination smoke alarms that combine ionization and photoelectric into one unit.

Ionization smoke detection is generally more responsive to flaming fires.  Ionization-type smoke alarms have a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates, which ionizes the air and causes current to flow between the plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ions, thus reducing the flow of current and activating the alarm. Sources of these fires may include flammable liquids or paper burning in a waste container. Most smoke alarms in use are of this type.

A photoelectric type smoke alarm consists of a light emitting diode and a light sensitive sensor in the sensing chamber. The presence of suspended products of combustion in the chamber scatters the light beam. This scattered light is detected and sets off the alarm. Sources of these fires may include cigarettes burning in couches or bedding.

Placement of smoke detectors is also very important.  Home inspectors should be aware that according to the IRC 2009 smoke detectors should be installed in each sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate  vicinity of the bedrooms and on each additional story of the dwelling , including basements and habitable attics but not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics.   In new construction, minimum requirements are typically more stringent. All smoke detectors must be hooked directly to the electrical wiring, be interconnected and have a battery backup.

If the smoke alarm is battery powered, it will run on either a disposable 9-volt battery or a non-replaceable 10-year lithium battery.  These batteries must be tested on a regular basis and, in most cases should be replaced at least once each year (except for lithium batteries).

Signature Home Inspection is a Certified Home Inspection service located in California serving Orange County, San Diego County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, Santa Clara County, San Mateo County, San Francisco County, Contra Costa County, and San Bernardino County California.                                               888-860-2688

Southern California Gas Company has been promoting their 811 phone service. Property owners can now dial “811″ to check the location of gas pipelines prior to construction.Know before you dig 811

From the Gas Co. Website: “Pipelines may be located anywhere, including under streets, sidewalks and private property, sometimes just inches below the surface. Excavation, planting, demolition and other forms of digging are a major cause of pipeline damage. That’s why it is important to know where they are before you begin any type of digging.

Whether you’re planning to build a major development or just landscaping your yard, protect your safety and the safety of those around you by calling Underground Service Alert at 811, at least two business days prior to excavating. You may call Underground Service Alert between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday (excluding holidays).

Underground Service Alert will coordinate with Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and other utility owners in the area to mark the locations of buried utility-owned lines. This is a FREE service and it can help prevent injury, costly property damage and loss of utility service.”

What to Do

  • MARK OUT out your proposed excavation area in white paint or provide other suitable markings.
  • CALL Underground Service Alert at 811 from 6a.m. to 7p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) at least two business days before digging.
  • WAIT until SoCalGas either marks its gas pipelines and indicates pipe material and diameter – or advises you the area is clear of its pipes before you start digging.
  • REMEMBER that SoCalGas uses only yellow paint, flags or stakes to mark out the location of its gas pipes. Other utility owners use other colors to mark their telephone, communications, water or other underground lines.
  • USE ONLY HAND TOOLS within 24 inches of each marked utility line to carefully expose the exact locations of all lines before using any power excavation equipment in the area.
  • REPORT any pipe damage by calling us immediately at 1-800-427-2200No damage is too small to report. Even a slight gouge, scrape or dent to a pipeline, its coating, or any component attached to or running along side the pipe, such as a wire, may cause a dangerous break or leak in the future.

Water conducts electricity, so it’s possible to be electrocuted by water that has come in contact with electricity. Talk to your family and loved ones about the dangers of mixing water and electricity.

  • Keep electrical appliances and power tools away from water
  • Never use electrical appliances in the shower or bath
  • Dry hands thoroughly before reaching for any electrical appliance
  • Install “ground fault circuit interrupter” (GFCI) outlets in the kitchen and bath; they are designed to protect against electric shock
  • If an electrical fire breaks out, do not throw water on it as you could be electrocuted. If an appliance catches fire, safety unplug it as soon as possible. If no appropriate fire extinguisher is available, you can also use baking soda to extinguish an electrical fire.

Safety is important, and reviewing safety tips with family and loved ones can help them stay safe.

How to Recognize a Natural Gas Leak?  Use your senses of sight, hearing and smell, along with any of the following signs, to alert


Gas Leak

yourself to the presence of a gas leak:


  • A damaged connection to a gas appliance
  • Dirt or water being blown into the air
  • dead or dying vegetation (in an otherwise moist area) over or near pipeline areas
  • A fire or explosion near a pipeline
  • Exposed pipeline after an earthquake, fire, flood or other disaster


  • An unusual sound, such as a hissing, whistling or roaring sound near a gas line or appliance


  • The distinctive odor of natural gas*

*Some people may not be able to smell the odor because they have a diminished sense of smell, olfactory fatigue (normal, temporary inability to distinguish an odor after prolonged exposure to it) or because the odor is being masked or hidden by other odors that are present, such as cooking, damp, musty or chemical odors. In addition, certain conditions in pipe and soil can cause odor fade – the loss of odorant so that it is not detectable by smell.

For more information give us a call at 888-860-2688.

Most of us store lawn-mower gas in the garage, so be prepared for a fire. Get a 5- to 10-pound U.L.–listed extinguisher and mount it in an easy-to-access spot. It should carry an ABC rating, certifying that it’s effective against wood, oil, and electrical fires. Though we’re sure you know to open the garage door when your car’s engine is running (right?), installing a carbon monoxide detector will give you added peace of mind. And while you’re at it, check your garage-door opener to make sure it has a U.L.–listed motor and an auto-stop feature that will prevent the door from closing in case a child or pet tries to sneak underneath.