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Combination Toaster/Smoke Alarm Tester

     Everyone knows that every home should have proper functioning Smoke Alarm/Detectors.  The required location of these devices has evolved over the years to the current standards that call for them being installed in every room that can be used for sleeping and on every floor level.  In new construction, they also have to be "hard-wired" and have a battery back-up.  They should be tested frequently and replaced every 10 years.  How often does that get done?  Not very often I would guess.

     Now the reality is that the "actual" functionality of these units will vary and most likely they will continue to work long after the manufacturer's recommendations.  Welcome to the world of conservative engineering, and planned obsolescence.  To protect themselves----the manufacturers are going to be as conservative as possible when "predicting" the life of units that save people's lives.  We could call this "well justified planned obsolescence" or "CYA Engineering."

     Wouldn't it be nice if there was a way to easily test these units----beside standing on a chair and pushing the test button----or poking it with a broom handle?

     While not designed with this function in mind-----this toaster I found in a recent kitchen would also function as a smoke alarm tester.

wall toaster 

     There is no way that a toaster located under wood kitchen cabinets is ever going to be safe.  Sooner or later the bottom of the cabinet will catch on fire.  There was some overheating/discoloration on the bottom of these cabinets----the occupants have gotten away with this installation for 8 years.

     This unit is apparently much older than the kitchen and has been recycled from days gone by----perhaps from the 50's when all kinds of built-in kitchen gadgets were created.  While it was an interesting idea and might be acceptable in a different location----there may be a good reason no manufacturer seems to make these recessed wall toasters anymore.

     Even a regular toaster will function as a smoke alarm tester if so desired-----it ruins the toast though!

Charles Buell

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Comment balloon 19 commentsCharles Buell • December 13 2008 12:50PM

Comments

Charles, the placement of this toaster is all wrong safety wise obviously. Our smoke detectors chirp this annoying chirp when the battery goes low. I like that self test feature.

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) almost 11 years ago

I've never seen a toaster that you pull out of the wall but I'll bet it was top of the line when installed.

 

Posted by Barbara S. Duncan, GRI, e-PRO, Executive Broker, Searcy AR (RE/MAX Advantage) almost 11 years ago

Gary, the chirping feature is for sure a good idea.

Barbara, yes, very top of the line.

Are you all getting email notice of comments on your posts?  I haven't gotten any for a couple of days and I have to keep checking my posts to see if anyone has commented.  Probably just another one of AR's many hiccups.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Thanks for the tip. I probably should move mine-Dinah Lee

Posted by Dinah Lee Griffey, Managing Broker Windermere Peninsula Properties (Windermere Peninsula Properties) almost 11 years ago

Dinah, yup----even regular countertop toasters should never be operated under the wood cabinets above.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Wow, new one on me and also a new one on the agent in my office who's been an agent since 1969. 

And same here for comments... no email, no notifications, yet comments are there.  I did notice the new MY COMMENTS tab on the left, but it has links to comments I made.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) almost 11 years ago

Charles I also have another question... if you are replacing a hard wired unit... can you replace it with a battery unit?

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) almost 11 years ago

Tammy, you should replace it with one that is hardwired with a battery back up

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

I thought I had seen most stupid convenience gadgets in my years, but not that.  Where did they think the heat would go?

I usually test mine with th broiler.  That way I don't have to stand on a chair.  Of course, it is a rather expensive tester.  At 5 or 6 dollars a lb can't do it too often.

 

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) almost 11 years ago

Jack I saw some $26.00 per lb Salmon a while back----you should try that:)  Who actually buys fish at that price?  I am in the canned tuna line at that price.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Charles if it is over 5 - 6 I try not to look at it.  Get up in the $26 bracket and I feel like I need to keep it for a while, maybe send it to collage.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) almost 11 years ago

Maybe a safe deposit box?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Charles, Cool Post... I like those built-in smoke alarm test kits. I often wonder what they were thinking. Odds are, they weren't. BTW, most smoke alarms have a functional life expectancy of about 10 years. The photo eye starts going bad after that length of time...

Merry Christmas...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Michael, thanks for the correction----you are correct----brain fart here:) (I have edited by post accordingly)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Charlie, Things like a toaster under the cabinets as a fire hazard are usually so obvious to us as home inspectors, but the average person just doesn't see it. People get caught up in how things looks, not functionality. I'm sure as a builder you understand all to well what I'm saying.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) almost 11 years ago

James, too true.  Some people actually prefer burned toast---this is like a little camp fire on your countertop:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Charlie,

That is a good idea. I think I have done that a few times but usually with the broiler.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Burning rodent fur will do that every time:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 11 years ago

Charlie - What is pretty scary is that somebody actually thought that this was a novel idea!

Posted by Carol Culkin, Overland Park (Reece & Nichols) almost 11 years ago

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