Nothing is more important to your family’s safety than your home’s smoke detectors and fire alarms. These devices alert you and your family where there is dangerous smoke or fire, giving you enough time to safely evacuate. But you’ll need to routinely check your smoke detectors to make sure they are working.
Why Should I Check Smoke Detectors?
As much as we would like it to be otherwise, electronic devices are not invincible. Batteries can die, and other parts of the device can wear out over time.
You’ll want to regularly check your detectors and replace their batteries, or in some cases the entire device. Doing this ensures that your family will stay safe if there ever is a fire in your home.
How Often Should I Check My Smoke Detectors?
Smoke alarms actually don’t need a ton of maintenance. They can be checked once a month with batteries replaced at least once or even twice a year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).
An easy way to remember to do this is to change your smoke detector’s batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings time. However, be sure to review your smoke detector’s user manual, as you may need to check your devices more frequently.
You’ll also want to do a visual inspection to make sure your alarm indicator is on. This makes sure that both your hard-wired and battery-operated fire alarm is properly connected and the batteries are working.
You should also occasionally vacuum and dust around the alarm. This way your device is clear of insects and dirt which can tamper with the effectiveness of the alarm.
When you check your batteries, make sure there is no corrosion, if there is you need to change the batteries. You also want to calibrate and test your fire alarm sensors based on what the manufacturer suggests.
When you perform these regular checks on the alarm system and replace the batteries, then your smoke detector and fire alarm will be in the best condition possible.
There are two different types of smoke detectors.
These detectors can easily have defective or worn-out batteries and need to be checked monthly. You never want to put old batteries into your fire alarms or smoke detectors.
You will want to frequently check that the batteries are working properly.
These detectors are powered by your home’s electrical system but tend to also have backup batteries so they still work if there is a power outage. Even though this device mainly uses your home’s electricity, you still need to check the batteries.
Hardwired smoke detectors still need to be tested monthly. This helps ensure that both the parts and batteries are working properly.
You should know that while your smoke alarms are mostly very reliable, they also can easily malfunction. If your smoke alarm starts chirping with a low-power sound, this means you need to replace your batteries right away.
If the alarm sounds while you’re cooking, you might want to move your alarm farther away from the kitchen.
If your detector is prone to giving false alarms, or if the alarm makes short beeps often without anyone touching it, you will want to check your device more frequently. Also know that consistent kitchen smoke will activate your alarm more often, which can actually wear it out faster.
How Long Do Smoke Detectors Last?
In addition to routinely checking your detectors, you should also know that smoke alarms tend to last only about 10 years. You should replace your detector every 10 years, even if your devices seem to be working correctly.
Newer model smoke alarms are more reliable than older models so consider upgrading when it’s time to replace your older model.
How Do You Check Smoke Detectors?
You’ll want to check with your detector’s manufacturer’s instructions for the proper way to test your fire alarm and smoke detector. Typically, the USFA says most battery-powered and hardwired smoke detectors can be tested like this:
Let your family know that you are testing the alarm. Smoke detectors have a very high-pitched sound that can frighten pets and small children. Let everyone know your plan and that it’s a test.
Have someone stand at the farthermost point away from the alarm. This is key to make sure the alarm can be heard everywhere in your home. You may want to install more detectors in places where the alarm sound is muffled, weak or low.
Now you will want to press and hold the smoke detector’s test button. After a few seconds, you should hear an ear-piercing, loud siren from the detector when you press the button.
If you don’t hear anything, you must replace your batteries. If it’s been more than six months since you replaced your batteries (which could be the case with hardwired alarms) change your batteries immediately, no matter what the test result was.
You will want to test your new batteries one last time to make sure it’s working properly. Make sure you check your smoke detector to make ensure there is no dust or anything blocking the grates. This can prevent the alarm from working even if your batteries are new.
Even with regular maintenance and if your device seems like it’s working, you will want to replace the detector after 10 years or even earlier, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions.
Check Your Smoke Detectors Today
Now that you know how to check smoke detectors, make this part of your housekeeping routine. It takes only a few minutes to make sure your devices are working properly.
For more fire safety tips, check out our blog.