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As homeowners, one of the most important things is your family’s safety. And to ensure that, installing a smoke alarm is an absolute must.
Smoke detectors and fire alarms are important warning devices that alert you on time in case there is a fire, enabling a quick and safe evacuation. But just like any other electronic devices, these too are subjected to wear and tear. Sometimes the batteries may die, and sometimes it is just the detector wearing out.
And to make sure that your family is safe, it is essential to periodically check and maintain your smoke alarms. In this guide, we will take you through all that you need to know about how to test and maintain them the right way.
So, without any further delay, let’s dive right in!
You should get the batteries of the smoke alarm replaced at least once or twice a year. And when it comes to checking the condition of your detector, you should get it checked at least once every month. You can check your state’s legislation for further details on maintenance requirements.
Now forgetting to conduct these regular checks is quite normal. And for that reason, we suggest that you change the batteries in the smoke alarm every time you change the clock for daylight saving.
Other than that, you will need to change the batteries in one of the following instances:
It is essential to keep in mind that there are essentially two types of smoke detectors. They are:
These devices are powered by the main electrical system of your house. As a result, they have power backup and can function even in case of a power cut. However, we would recommend that you get them tested every few months to check if the detector and the batteries are performing efficiently.
Unlike hardwired devices, these are more susceptible to damage as the batteries can wear out faster. So, conducting a monthly test is extremely crucial. And make sure that you never put used or worked out batteries in your alarms as that might lead to the malfunctioning of the device.
Some of the more recent models come with a hush-button technology that silences any false alarms and makes the unit dysfunctional until the air clears out. Not only that, but it also makes the unit reset itself. These are great for people who do not like the continuous ear-penetrating noise during false alarms.
Some models come with additional safety lights that blink rapidly the moment the alarm gets activated. This gives you both an aural and visual signal in case there is a fire. If there is someone short of hearing in the house, this option can be of great help.
It goes without saying that reading the user instructions before and after installing the smoke alarm is of great help. Apart from that, you can follow your state’s regulations to check your smoke alarms correctly. The steps are as follows:
The first thing that you need to do is keep all the family members informed that you would be getting the alarm tested. Some smoke detectors release high-pitched alarm tones that might scare kids and pets. So, it is best to keep everyone informed to ensure no one gets startled or disturbed when you are conducting the check.
Ask a family member to stand at the farthest point from the alarm. This would help you understand if the alarm can be heard from all over the house. In case it cannot, you might have to consider adding more detectors in the areas where the sound becomes muffled or weak.
The next thing to do is to press and hold the test button present on the device. Don’t worry if the alarm takes a little longer to initiate. But when it does, it should release a piercing siren as you keep pressing on the button. In case you find the sound to be muffled or non-existent, it is time you get the batteries replaced and the device checked for any other damage.
If it has been more than six months since you changed the batteries, we would suggest that you get it changed as soon as possible. Do this irrespective of whether it is a battery-powered or a hardwired smoke alarm. And once you are done replacing the old ones with a new set of batteries, test it again to check if the device is properly functioning.
Another thing to keep in mind when conducting monthly tests is to see if the smoke alarm has collected any dust. You can use a brush or a vacuum cleaner to remove the dirt and debris from the device. However, avoid using any solvents or cleaning sprays, as they might contaminate the system and damage the interiors.
If the grates are clogged by debris, then it would prevent the alarm from functioning efficiently even if you replace the batteries. So, clean the device regularly and thoroughly to keep it functional.
You should keep in mind that smoke alarms do not have a long lifespan. In the best-case scenario, they can last for about a decade. After that, they can malfunction at any time without any prior warning signs. So, even if you feel that the device is performing effectively, it is advisable to change it after every 10 years for safety.
And if the user manual mentions that you need to replace it sooner, pay heed to that. Do not take a chance, as that would mean putting your family’s health and safety at risk!
Simply put, you should check the batteries once every month by pressing the test button for a minimum of 5 seconds to check if you hear the alarm. And every 6 months, conduct deep vacuuming to keep the dust off your system. This would help ensure that the vents are clear, and in case of a fire, the smoke will effectively reach the internal filters.
And every year, replace the alkaline batteries with a new pair just to ensure that they do not run out. Likewise, it is imperative to change the entire system with a new lithium-powered smoke alarm. But read the user instruction carefully to see if it needs to be replaced before that.
That’s all we have for you today, folks!
Perhaps, smoke detectors are your best defence to ensure your family’s safety against fire. But in case they are not working, it might lead to a dangerous situation. So, invest some time in checking and maintaining them.
We hope that this guide has helped direct you on how to get that done. Feel free to write to us in the comments section below if you have any queries, concerns, or suggestions.
Until next time!