Checking Smoke Detectors (When, why, how )

smoke detectors

The fire at the next door neighbor’s house caused a lot of internal damage. Thankfully they were away for the weekend. When they investigated the scene, they also found out that the smoke alarm wasn’t working. Lucky escape? We’d sure say so.

Always test smoke detectors and ensure they’re functional. Don’t know how?

  1. Alert family members

Before you decide to run a test, alert all family members that you are testing the smoke alarm. Unless you want to use this opportunity to carry out a fire drill, always best to notify everyone. Before you test smoke detectors in the house and check if they are hardwired to a monitored security system, make sure you notify the security company that you are checking your smoke detectors and smoke alarms, unless you want the firemen to show up.

  1. Check the range of the alarm

The smoke alarm should be able to wake up the deepest of sleepers in the house, for obvious reasons. Ask someone to go to that part of the house which is farthest from the smoke alarm to check if the alarm is audible in that range. If it is not heard clearly, it is best to install a couple more (depending on the need) smoke detectors in that part of the house.

  1. Pressing and holding

When you test smoke detectors, it can take a few seconds to begin. But when it does, a loud ear-piercing siren should emanate from the smoke detector while it’s pressed. There are two types of smoke detectors:

  1. Battery powered: These can be susceptible to worn out or defective batteries. Always remember to test smoke detectors monthly and replace worn out batteries. Avoid putting old batteries in smoke alarms and detectors.

  2. Hardwired: These types of detectors are connected to your electric supply. They usually use back-up batteries which will help the smoke alarm function during a power outage. They still require monthly testing to ensure both batteries and parts are functioning properly.

If it has been more than six months since you last replaced the batteries (whether your detector is battery-powered or hardwired), change them now regardless of the test result, and test the new batteries one final time to help ensure proper functioning. You should also look at your smoke detector to make sure there’s no dust or other substance blocking its grates, which may prevent it from working even if the batteries are new.

  1. You can try and spray smoke detector test aerosol

You could find this at a home improvement store or a well stocked hardware store. They cost only a few dollars and one will last years. Just spray some of the test material into the detector, and wait 5 to 10 seconds for a response. If the alarm sounds, you know the unit will sound in a fire. If not, you have a non-functioning smoke detector, even if it beeps when you push the button. Try changing the batteries and cleaning the detector to remove any dust that may be blocking the openings, then repeat the test procedure. If that does not get it working, it is useless. Replace it as soon as possible.

Usually smoke detectors have a life of 10 years. Even if you regularly test smoke detectors, and your device is functional, you should consider and replace them after a 10 year period depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. At 1CallInspections, we provide a variety of services to help you with your regular household maintenance. All it takes is one call.