There is no denying smoke alarms save lives from flaming fires.
A smoke alarm is a device that detects smoke and sounds an alarm to warn people of a fire. Smoke alarms are typically battery-powered or hard-wired into a home’s electrical system. They can be either ionization or photoelectric. Ionization smoke alarms are better at detecting fast-moving fires, such as those caused by grease or cooking oil. Photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting slow-moving fires, such as those caused by smouldering materials.
It doesn’t matter what caused the fire; they will alert you before it becomes unmanageable. When smoke detectors fail, they can lead to an unfortunate disaster, so they must be maintained.
By knowing your detectors, maintaining them, and testing your smoke detectors regularly, you can prevent fires in the future. Keeping your smoke detectors in good working order takes a little time and effort. So, here’s a quick guide for you to get started.
Installation Of Smoke Alarms
A certified electrician should always install smoke alarms per the Building Code of Australia. Like many other electrical components, such as rewiring, you should not DIY the smoke alarm to avoid malfunctioning and costing you money.
To comply with legislative positioning requirements, smoke alarms must be positioned in the middle of ceilings or on walls, 12 inches away from ceilings. Keeping it in the centre will make it more efficient at detecting smoke.
Here’s where you shouldn’t install smoke alarms in existing homes:
- Near corners
- Near doors, windows or ducts
- Above stove tops or cooking appliances
- In the proximity of steam or humidity
- Close to electrical fixtures
How To Maintain a Smoke Alarm
If your smoke alarms aren’t used for a while, they might malfunction. Dust and pollutants in the air can cause this, so smoke detectors must be checked periodically.
1. Testing Your Smoke Alarm
Installing smoke alarms in your home is one thing, but ensuring working smoke alarms is another. As such, testing your smoke detectors is vital:
- Locate the test button. The test button is usually located on the front of the smoke alarm. It may be a small button or a lever.
- Press and hold the test button. Once you have located the test button, press and hold it for five seconds.
- Listen for the alarm to sound. The alarm should sound in a loud, steady tone. Check the lithium battery if the alarm does not sound or is weak.
- Replace the batteries. If the smoke alarm is battery-powered, replace the batteries every six months. It’s always good to have a backup battery in hand.
- Have the smoke alarm professionally inspected every year. A qualified technician can inspect your smoke alarm for damage and ensure it works correctly.
Testing your smoke alarm monthly is vital to ensure it works properly. Smoke alarms can become damaged over time, and they may need to be replaced. By testing your smoke alarm monthly, you can be sure it will work properly if there is a fire in your home.
Here are some additional tips for testing hard-wired smoke alarms and interconnected alarms:
- Test your smoke alarms at night. This is when you are most likely to be asleep and unable to hear a malfunctioning smoke alarm.
- Teach your children how to test and maintain smoke alarms. This is a crucial fire safety skill they should learn at a young age.
- Have a fire escape plan. In the event of a fire, you should have a plan for how you and your family will escape from your home.
- Practice your fire escape plan regularly. This will help you and your family know what to do in a fire.
Smoke alarms are an essential fire safety device that can save lives. You can help keep your family safe from a fire by testing and maintaining your smoke alarms regularly.
2. When You Should Replace Your Smoke Alarm
It’s generally recommended to replace your smoke alarms if they are ten years old. Your smoke alarm can stop working due to dirt, pollutants, or corrosion in its electrical components. It’s especially true with replaceable smoke alarm batteries, which can cause continuous sounds.
If you have to remove a smoke detector powered by your home’s electrical system, contact a certified electrician to do the job.
False Alarm: What To Do
Smoke alarms that don’t work can be a hassle and make you complacent during an actual fire. Check off these measures to avoid false alarms and ensure they don’t happen again.
1. Reset Your Smoke Alarm
Reset your smoke alarms by removing the battery and pressing the test button. Hold the button down for five seconds, release it and place the battery back in again.
Putting the battery back in’ll make a short noise, signalling that power has been restored. This should stop any occurrences of a false alarm.
2. Check The Vicinity Of Your Smoke Alarm
If your smoke alarm is in an area with a high influx of air or dust, it may cause false alerts. You may want to relocate the device if the dust cannot be kept out.
3. Clean Your Smoke Detector
As mentioned, the build-up of debris or dust can cause your smoke alarm to malfunction and make a false alarm. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, you can take the casing out and clean it with a soft, dry cloth. Before reassembling the smoke alarm, ensure no dust particles are left inside.
Essential Smoke Alarm Features That Need To Be Checked
To improve the accuracy of alarms and reduce false alarms, you’ll want to check the other features regularly. When replacing faulty smoke alarms, make sure they come with these features:
1. Digital Carbon Monoxide Monitor
Some smoke detectors add security measures to detect the amount of carbon monoxide gas in your home. The smoke alarm activates if the gas content exceeds 70 parts per million.
2. Interconnecting Smoke Detector
Interconnected smoke alarms are interconnected with each other across your home. If there’s a fire at one end of your home, every smoke detector will make a sound, too. This is essential for home fire safety, ensuring you hear the alarm.
3. Mute Button
If one smoke alarm goes off or accidentally triggers a smoke detector, you can press the mute button to turn the sounds off without having to turn the alarm off altogether.
Beginners Guide To Maintaining Your Smoke Alarm
Several Australian rules and regulations are in place to prevent deaths from house fires. While they haven’t reduced the occurrence to zero, they have made a significant impact, including smoke detectors.
The last thing anyone wants is a faulty smoke detector when there’s a fire. Proper alarm maintenance and following appropriate rules and regulations can prevent false alarms or alarm malfunctions.
For smoke alarm specialists in Sydney, make sure you speak with our team at Bright Force Electrical.
All it takes is vigilance and a few minutes of your time every month. For more tips to keep your family safe, check out our guide on how to clean your light fixtures correctly.
Take care, and don’t forget to test your smoke alarm!