Plastic connectors for electrical

Richo B

Richo
Senior User
Today I'm replacing wired smoke detectors with battery operated units because I don't like the idea of no electricity means no detection. These wired detectors used plastic connectors that organized the three wires together to be connected to a similar connector coming out of the ceiling. Usually when doing electrical work with light fixtures and such the wires from the ceiling get capped. But in this instance I've got the three wires in a plastic connector.

Question - Do these wires need to be removed and individually capped or can they remain in the plastic connector? If they need to come out I can manage that.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
If you are confident that the connectors will not touch each other (short across) than leave them be; otherwise, if it were me, I would cap each wire just to on the safe side.
 

Richo B

Richo
Senior User
Raymond, I'm sort of with you. I've dealt with these type of connectors before but never for something that would have live electricity flowing through but not be used any longer.
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
All newer wired in smoke detectors include battery back up, and are most likely wired to be "stationed together." What this means if one goes off, they all do. Very important in multilevel houses, or long ranch style houses. The original (1980) ones in our house didn't include battery back up, but all the replacements ones have.
 

Joe Scharle

Joe
Corporate Member
Hold on smoke detector man....Heed the code---

R314.4 Interconnection. Where more than one smoke alarm is required to be installed within an individual dwelling unit, the alarm devices shall be interconnected in such a manner that the actuation of one alarm will activate all of the alarms in the individual dwelling unit. Physical interconnection of smoke alarms shall not be required where listed wireless alarms are installed and all alarms sound upon activation of one alarm.
Exception: Interconnection of smoke alarms in existing areas shall not be required where alterations or repairs do not result in the removal of interior wall or ceiling finishes exposing the structure.

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R314.5 Combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms shall be permitted to be used in lieu of smoke alarms.
R314.6 Power source. Smoke alarms shall receive their primary power from the building wiring where such wiring is served from a commercial source and, where primary power is interrupted, shall receive power from a battery. Wiring shall be permanent and without a disconnecting switch other than those required for over current protection.
 

Charles Lent

Charley
Corporate Member
Both ends of all unused wiring should be disconnected and insulated, but the big question here is are these just signal wires carrying only a very low voltage, or are they carrying 120 VAC power? Most wired systems that I have seen have a central station control box with one large battery there along with a powered battery recharging system. The detection system is always running on the battery, but when there is AC power, the battery is kept fully charged. When the power goes off, the battery is sufficient to power the system for several days.
Maybe all you need is to replace the one big battery.

Other systems have low voltage signal circuits to cause an alarm from all detectors, should any one of them activate. You need to know what the wires are for before doing anything with them.

If your wires are carrying 120 VAC, DO NOT just tape the end and put it back in the ceiling. Find the source, disconnect, and tape both ends before putting it out of service.

Charley
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
Both ends of all unused wiring should be disconnected and insulated, but the big question here is are these just signal wires carrying only a very low voltage, or are they carrying 120 VAC power? Most wired systems that I have seen have a central station control box with one large battery there along with a powered battery recharging system. The detection system is always running on the battery, but when there is AC power, the battery is kept fully charged. When the power goes off, the battery is sufficient to power the system for several days.
Maybe all you need is to replace the one big battery.

Other systems have low voltage signal circuits to cause an alarm from all detectors, should any one of them activate. You need to know what the wires are for before doing anything with them.

If your wires are carrying 120 VAC, DO NOT just tape the end and put it back in the ceiling. Find the source, disconnect, and tape both ends before putting it out of service.

Charley
Charley, you are referring to alarm systems, not individual smoke dectectors as requied by building code. Different animal completely
 

Charles Lent

Charley
Corporate Member
I've worked on both. The original post wasn't clear to me, but just terminating wires at one end inside a wall or ceiling is bad practice and a code violation. You need to disconnect and insulate both ends if you will be abandoning the wiring.

Charley
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
I would cap and tape off, I ALWAYS do that with ALL wires regardless if live or not ... unless ... I can abandon the other side as well.

With regard to code compliance it depends on when the building was built (last permit date really) That drives the code compliance.
 

Joe Scharle

Joe
Corporate Member
The code is clear...Wired detectors must be replaced with wired detectors.
Since Richo states he wants to replace existing wired units, the code level of his house must have required wired with battery b/u.
Insurance company can reject a claim for code violation and a home inspector should note this as well.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
Good information, Joe. If I understand correctly; wired detectors can be replaced with wired detectors or wired with battery backup.

Can the wired detectors be replaced with wireless detectors?
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
I have wired detectors with 9v battery back-up, and just replaced them all. All smoke detectors (wired, battery, or combination) should be replaced every 10 years. Mine were 14 years old. Wired with battery back-up are pretty inexpensive. They work when the power is out. I went with the same brand, so did not need to change the pigtails, even though I changed types.

I replaced the original ionization ones in the bedrooms with photo-electric. Photoelectric will detect a smoldering fire (ex: in-wall electrical short, cigarette in the upholstry) up to 20 minutes faster than ionization. Ionization will detect a fast fire (ex. kitchen grease fire, waste can fire) a few seconds faster than photoelectric, and are more prone to false alarms. Photo-electric are a little more expensive. Best scenario is to have a combination.

The life span of CO detectors is about 7 years. There have been a lot of reports of the "10 year non-replaceable battery" alarms (fire, CO and combo) failing early (between 5 and 7 years). These are the most expensive, except for those with the added capability to link with Alexa, home security systems, etc.
 
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McRabbet

Rob
Corporate Member
The connectors are a type of Molex connector that are nearly universal -- the most common are compatible with both First Alert and alarms manufactured by Kidde. If you search for "Fire Alarm Connectors" on Google or Amazon, you'll find adapters that Kidde makes for connections to other brands. I would recommend that you stay with high quality, centrally-wired alarms with built-in battery backup. The safety of your family and protection of your preoperty are worth the investment. JMTCW
 

tri4sale

Daniel
Corporate Member
The life span of CO detectors is about 7 years. There have been a lot of reports of the "10 year non-replaceable battery" alarms (fire, CO and combo) failing early (between 5 and 7 years). These are the most expensive, except for those with the added capability to link with Alexa, home security systems, etc.
My CO detectors failed at 8 years, both within a week of each other.

I've started replacing mine at the 10 year mark (or when they fail) with the 10 year non-replaceable battery models, even if they fail early the convenience of not swapping out eight 9-volt batteries every 6 months is worth it.

What's really sad is that as a real estate agent, I go into 100's of homes a year, and the number of them that have the smoke detectors gone because people got annoyed by the beeping.
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
What's really sad is that as a real estate agent, I go into 100's of homes a year, and the number of them that have the smoke detectors gone because people got annoyed by the beeping.
Which means that until corrected, you can't sell the property. Come on folks, smoke detectors are less than $40. With the plug in, they are a consumer replacement item. What's your family's life worth?
 

tri4sale

Daniel
Corporate Member
Which means that until corrected, you can't sell the property. Come on folks, smoke detectors are less than $40. With the plug in, they are a consumer replacement item. What's your family's life worth?
That depends, some loan's don't actually require they be installed/replaced. The FHA / USDA / VA loan's have required us to have them installed, but some other loan programs didn't.

And half the time you can call the fire department and they'll come install for free!
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
My house is over 50 years old. So after I bought it, I added a few smoke detectors including one for my bedroom with CO sensing. I got ones with 10 year batteries. I had a contractor create some more living space above my expanded garage and he had to put in the current number of smoke detectors. I did the finish electrical, however, so I put in 120V detectors with no battery backup except for one. I absolutely HATE getting up in the middle of the night to replace smoke detector batteries. I've tried the once a year replacement but then I have early battery failure on a few.

I know my 120V only detectors are not up to code and I (or more likely my kids) will have to replace them when we sell this house. But I sleep very well with a few battery detectors in strategic locations and my "every six inches" of 120V detectors in the rooms over the garage. The odds of the electricity being off at the start of a fire are not very great. And I still have detectors.

I cannot imagine replacing 120V detectors with battery ones unless you use the ones with lithium batteries. They make a lot of sense since the detector needs replacement then anyway. The batteries are the issue.
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
That depends, some loan's don't actually require they be installed/replaced. The FHA / USDA / VA loan's have required us to have them installed, but some other loan programs didn't.

And half the time you can call the fire department and they'll come install for free!
Not having them is a violation of the original building permit. If I remember correctly, broker is required to list any know defects, which this would be.
 

tarheelz

Dave
Corporate Member
Let's hope Richo heeded the advice here. It will be an unwelcome surprise when he goes to sell (or his heirs do).
 

Richo B

Richo
Senior User
Wow look at all the responses! I posted this last Saturday got a response from Raymond and then e-mailed with a friend of mine familiar with electrical codes. I took care of the problem (incorrectly apparently) before most of you responded. Well I can always reverse what I did and reinstall new wired detectors. The two battery detectors could go elsewhere. Being a former fire fighter I prefer to have working detectors rather than having them just to satisfy real estate agents. I'm also not convinced that new wired detectors would have the same connection type that the old ones did and I would still have to make some modifications there.

This new NCWW website doesn't appear to notify us of new posts on the thread even after we've checked back at it. The old website did and I would have definitely checked back had I known there were responses. I only got one e-mail for the original response from Raymond. Recently most threads I post get few or no responses so I've neglected checking back in. Also I've been spending more time on Instagram connecting with Woodworkers there and following some of the national artists that I'm interested in.

Thanks for all the helpful info.
 

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