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When should I replace my smoke alarm?

Smoke alarms, also called smoke detectors, are an essential component of fire safety. Fire safety regulations have become more comprehensive over the years, and it is now part a fire code requirement that smoke alarms be installed in every bedroom as well as outside bedrooms on every level of a home. You may be wondering, when should I replace my smoke alarm? Here is a guide to knowing what type of smoke alarms to buy, how to install them, and how to maintain them.

What kind of smoke alarm should I choose?

Choosing what type of smoke detectors to buy in the first place can feel like a daunting task. Looking online for reviews can be a good place to start, so you may want to start there. Make sure you are buying units that are laboratory tested (look for the UL label on packaging, product, or manual). Also, consider how the smoke detector is powered. Does it take batteries? Or does it run on lithium batteries? This will effect maintenance.

Where do I install my smoke alarm?

You’ll want to install smoke alarms inside every bedroom in the home, as well as in bathrooms, common areas, and in hallways. Make sure alarms are installed on every level of the home, including the basement and the attic. These smoke alarms should be located near the staircase that leads to other levels of the home, to increase the likelihood that the alarm is heard. Make sure to install alarms around ten feet away from anything that might provoke false alarms—like the stove top for example. Installing smoke detectors near windows or doors may interfere with them because of drafts, so aim for central areas on ceilings or high up on walls. It’s a good idea to connect all the smoke alarms in your home—that way when one goes off, they all do. This is the best way to ensure that you hear it when the smoke alarm goes off.

How do I test my smoke alarm?

Most smoke alarms have a button that you can push to test them. If this is the case, press the button to test your smoke alarm about once every month. Some smoke alarms can be tested using infrared light, like the signal from a remote control unit. In any case, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for testing smoke alarms. If you’ve lost the packaging or manual, instructions for your particular smoke detector can more than likely be found online on the manufacturer’s website.

When should I replace my smoke alarm?

Different smoke alarms require different maintenance, and need to be replaced at different times. If your smoke alarm has a ten-year lithium battery, you will need to replace the entire unit around every ten years, unless the unit begins to beep, signifying that the battery is running low. However, if your smoke alarm has replaceable batteries, make sure to replace the batteries about every year—or when you hear the beeps indicating that the battery is getting low. Use manufacturer instructions to choose batteries for these smoke detectors, as they may be specific!

 

Courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association

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