renee roberts, real estate, seattle, graphic design, marketing for realtors A Day in the Life of A Real Estate Broker - Renee Roberts
Broker LifeWREN graphics October 4, 2023

A Day in the Life of A Real Estate Broker

Renee vs. the CO2 Detector

One of many things that are required when selling your home are that functioning CO2 &/or smoke detectors must be installed. Home inspectors and bank appraisers check for these items.

The general rule is that smoke alarms must be installed in every bedroom, and on every level of the residence including the basement. Carbon monoxide (CO2) is an odorless, colorless, and tasteless poisonous gas. Washington State law requires carbon monoxide alarms in residential buildings in the area right outside of each bedroom, with at least one alarm on each floor.

We have a small 1-story rambler listing in the south end and received notification that the appraiser was going to be visiting the home shortly.  Last time I checked on this vacant listing, there was the familiar chirp of a dead battery in the smoke detector. So I grab both a 9-volt battery and a couple of spare AA batteries since I’m not sure which kind this device takes and head on down.

Now the dilemma is reaching the ceiling. The house is currently vacant. There’s no staging furniture I can borrow to stand on. I’m not terribly tall, maybe 5’5” on a good day – maybe 5’6½” with my shoes on. However I have 4 A-boards in the trunk of my car from this past weekend’s open house –  that adds about 4”.

I. Can. Almost. Reach.

But, I recall this house just had brand new carpet installed & there’s a scrap roll in one of the closets! That adds just enough height that if I stand on my tippy toes and just at the end of my extended fingertips, I can reach!

I replace the 9-volt battery & slide battery door back in place. Seconds later, I hear the familiar annoying chirp. I give it a minute.

Chirp… Chirp….

I take the device down, look at the back to see that it was made in 2006. 17 years old. It’s casing is yellowed with age. It’s just a smoke detector.

Do I have extra CO2/Smoke Detectors at home? Yes. I buy them in bulk since this is a required appraisal item that many home sellers forget about.

Do I have a rechargeable drill/screwdriver? Yes, at home.

Am I anywhere near home? Nope – miles away on the complete opposite end of the city.

Luckily, there’s a hardware store just a ¼ mile away. $100 later with a new rechargeable screwdriver and a brand spankin’ new CO2/Smoke detector combo unit, I head back to our listing. Stand on my 4 a boards and rolled up carpet scrap, on my tippy toes, remove the old smoke detector and realize it’s a completely different size than the new device so it won’t simply slide in place. I have to replace the flange too.

So I use the bathroom pedestal sink as my little staging area to unwrap the new screwdriver, plug it in, open the CO2 detector package, then the little plastic bag holding the screws, anchors and AA batteries, and nearly lose a screw down the drain… luckily I blocked the drain with the instructions for my new screwdriver.

I loosen the 2 little screws keeping the old flange on the ceiling, only to discover the old plastic casing was painted in place! It wouldn’t turn, it wouldn’t budge. Even with blunt force trauma. Now, this is not my first rodeo… I keep weird odds and ends in a little case in my car and think I might happen to have a razor blade.

After scrounging through the glovebox and boot of my car, I find the utility blade and carefully cut the paint away as I’m precariously perched on my stack of A-boards and carpet roll. Success! The flange is removed. Will the screws align with the new flange? Of course not!

Once my two new screws and anchors are installed, the rest of the installation goes pretty seamlessly. Except that I accidentally turned the faucet on while gathering items out of the sink and soaked my new screwdriver instruction sheet.

I am just grateful there were no cameras in the house to catch this comedy of errors (or curse words)! I am also thankful that in this instance I only had to replace 1 detector!