At Elextric, we know that smoke alarms can only save lives if properly maintained and in good working condition. That is why our team of residential electricians have put together some information on smoke detectors and how to maintain smoke detectors in your home properly.
What are Smoke Detectors?
Smoke detectors are an important part of safety in a home, as these fire-protection devices will automatically detect and warn you of the presence of smoke and can save your life in the event of a fire. While it can be easy to forget to check and test smoke alarms regularly, it is important to ensure that they are properly maintained and correctly installed.
Why Use Smoke Detectors?
Having smoke detectors placed in various locations around your home allows for fast and effective detection. The smoke detector siren will warn you, day or night, that there is a potential fire, allowing you to quickly check the nature of the problem and hopefully prevent any damage. When placed in the right location, the smoke alarm can also help firefighters quickly locate the fire in the home, focusing their efforts better.
How do Smoke Detectors Work?
Since smoke rises, smoke detectors are always placed on the roof for ideal detection. There are two common types of smoke detectors to choose from photoelectric and ionization. Photoelectric sensors use a beam of light within the detector to sense any smoke in the air. The beam will shoot in a straight line when the air is clear. In the presence of smoke, the light will scatter; this is when the alarm will go off. Ionization detectors, on the other hand, use a chamber with a small electrical current. When smoke enters the chamber, and the level of ions in the air changes, the electrical current drops, and the alarm will sound.
Each function is beneficial in different instances, and because of this, one is not necessarily better than the other. However, it is recommended to have one of these functions on each floor of your home and in high-risk areas, such as the kitchen or near fireplaces and heating appliances.
Smoke Detector Installation
It is recommended that there are smoke detectors on each floor of your home. If doors to rooms are closed often, it is best to have a detector installed in those rooms; however, a smoke alarm should place away from rooms that create steam, such as bathrooms, as steam can trigger the smoke detector. Most smoke detectors use double-sided tape to stick the device to the ceiling mount. To properly install a smoke detector, you will need to drill the mount to your ceiling and then attach the smoke detector to the sticky mount.
Smoke Alarm Maintenance Tips
To ensure that your smoke alarms are working as they should, it is important to perform regular testing and cleaning. Some of the regular maintenance that should be performed on smoke detectors include:
Testing Your Smoke Alarm
How often should you test your smoke alarm?
Each smoke alarm should be tested once every month to ensure that the battery is not dead and that the alarm is operating properly. To test your smoke detector, hold down the test button until you hear a loud alert tone. If the smoke alarm is in a hard-to-reach place, try using a broom handle or long pole to press the button. In some cases, you may need to press the button again to turn the alarm off.
Protecting Your Smoke Alarm from Infestations
Using a surface insect spray around each of the smoke alarms in your home can be a good way to help prevent insects from nesting inside; however, when spraying around smoke alarms, make sure they are covered to prevent spraying inside of them.
Replacing the Battery in a Smoke Alarm
The smoke alarm’s battery may need to be replaced once a year. In most models, when the batteries are low, the detector will emit a short beeping sound every few minutes. It is important to note that not all smoke alarms have replaceable batteries, so you will need to check the manufacturer’s instructions before replacing the batteries in your smoke alarms.
When Should You Replace Your Smoke Alarm?
Since smoke alarms work to monitor the air 24 hours a day constantly, they may begin to malfunction over time from exposure to accumulated dust, insects, airborne contaminants, and corrosion. Most smoke detectors will have an expiration or replace-by date stamped/printed on them; however, if your smoke alarm does not have a date on it, it is important to replace it once every 5 years. At the end of 5 years, the smoke alarm will have gone through millions of monitoring cycles, and the components may have become less reliable.