Types of Smoke Detectors

smoke detector

During a home inspection, the inspector will evaluate the placement and condition of the smoke detectors in a home.

The NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) recommends at least one smoke detector (and one carbon monoxide detector) on each level a home. This includes a sub-level or basement.

The home inspector will verify there is at least one detector on each floor of the home and that the detectors are in good condition.

You will need to install a smoke detector on each floor of your home prior to the arrival of the home inspector in order to pass your report.

The smoke detectors should be installed on the ceiling and 4 inches away from the nearest wall. Do not install them directly next to a window or above a stove or chimney fireplace.

There are two different types of smoke detectors to choose from:


An ionization smoke alarm responds well to fires that spark fast. This alarm contains a tiny amount of materials that are radioactive. The materials filter through an air-filled chamber in the alarm. The chamber contains two electrodes with a current between the two. If smoke enters the chamber it will pause the current which will then sound the alarm.


This type of smoke alarm relies on lasers and optics to detect smoke in the air. There is a laser inside the alarm that sends a direct beam across the device. If smoke interferes with the path of the laser it will cause beams to disperse across the device and hit different sensors within the device which will sound the alarm.

The NFPA recommends purchasing combination smoke detectors. A combination smoke detector uses both the radioactive materials and laser sensors for 100% certainty the device will detect the smoke in your home.

The home inspector will verify that the alarm is a combination alarm and recommend the installation of a combination alarm if the home features only an ionization or photoelectric alarm.

You can also purchase a smoke detector that doubles as a carbon monoxide detector. This will save you time and money in having to install multiple detectors on each floor of your home.

DIY Chimney Cleaning


If you have a fireplace in your home, it needs to be cleaned during the year in order to prevent chimney fires from burning wood.

Your chimney will be carefully inspected during a proper home inspection. You will want it to be clean before the home inspector arrives.

You want to remove creosote from the chimney and fireplace. Creosote is an organic compound that is very flammable that will build up over time after burning wood in the chimney.

You can hire a professional chimney cleaning service or save money with DIY chimney cleaning.

This post from Lake Watch Homes will provide step-by-step instructions on how to clean your chimney and fireplace:


  • Ladder
  • Safety Gear
  • Chimney Brush
  • Fiberglass Rod
  • Flashlight
  • Vacuum

You need to purchase a chimney brush from a hardware store that fits the exact dimensions of your chimney flute. A brush costs about $20. You will also need to purchase a fiberglass rod to fasten the brush to. This will cost about $10.


You should first seal or close the opening of your chimney in your home. You do not want creosote or soot to be pushed down and into your living space.

If the chimney doesn’t have doors, seal it by taping plastic bags or cardboard over the opening.


You will need to be comfortable with climbing onto your roof for this project. Practice proper ladder safety to reach the roof and ensure someone helps you hold the ladder during your ascension to the top of the roof.

You also want to wear the proper safety gear on the roof. This includes footwear with good traction and a harness.


Remove the chimney cap from the top of the chimney. The cap is usually just attached with a couple of screws or bolts that can often be removed by hand although, you might need a wrench or screwdriver to remove your chimney cap.


Push the brush in an up and down motion in the chimney. Push the brush as far down as you can until you have the bottom of the fiberglass rod in the chimney. Then attach an additional rod and continue to push down the chimney. Continue this process until you have reached the bottom of chimney.

You should use vigorous force in cleaning the chimney. Then pull the chimney brush up from the bottom of the chimney and out of the chimney.

We recommend protective eyewear as there will be a lot of creosote that will shoot out of the chimney when you pull out the brush and you do not want it in your eyes.

Turn on your flashlight and look down the chimney and see if it looks clean to you. If you see remaining creosote deposits, continue to clean the chimney until all of the creosote buildup is gone.


Now go into your home and use a handheld vacuum or suction hose to remove all of the loose debris and creosote from the bottom of the fireplace.

The entire DIY chimney cleaning process should only require one hour of your time and cost around $30.

Be sure to complete this project prior to the arrival of the home inspector so he can ensure the chimney is in good working condition for the potential home buyers.