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Essential Maintenance Tips for Smoke Alarms

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House fires can be devastating as they lead to huge losses, inconveniences, and even injuries and fatalities. Smoke detector alarms help prevent them by alerting us early when there’s a hint of a fire in the house. However, like any other appliance, they need to be maintained and serviced to ensure that they work as expected.

In this guide, we’ll take you through some essential maintenance tips you should follow for your smoke alarms.

Test Your Smoke Alarms Monthly

Having a smoke detector that doesn’t work is just as bad as not having one. Unfortunately, most people don’t take the few minutes it requires to check whether their alarms are working. Ideally, this should be done a minimum of once a month.

Most modern smoke alarms, such as those sold by RS, come with a test button. This button only needs to be pressed once, and it will let you know whether your smoke detector is working well by sounding a brief alarm. If you are using an interconnected network of smoke detectors, the check should be more comprehensive. You need to ensure that when you test one alarm, all others also go off. 

Replace the Batteries Annually

Most of the alarms we use in our homes are wireless, meaning they operate with batteries as the source of power. This means that if your batteries run out power, the smoke alarm will stop working. Ideally, smoke alarm batteries should be replaced at least once a year. This is not easy to remember, so you should set a reminder to replace your batteries. Some smoke alarms have a light that shows low battery power, but most don’t.

When replacing your batteries, ensure you use high-quality ones. While they may cost more, the safety they provide is worth every penny. If you opt to use lower-quality ones, you will need to replace them more frequently or run the risk of your smoke detectors not working.

Keep Your Smoke Alarms Clean

Depending on where you have placed your smoke alarms, they will often accumulate things such as dust, dirt, or debris. This usually happens over time, and it makes your smoke detectors less sensitive. They may therefore not work when you need them to.

Smoke alarms need to be cleaned every once in a while. You can disconnect them and then vacuum both the outside and inside of the alarm. Pay greater attention to the detection chamber, as this is the most sensitive part of the alarm. However, ensure you don’t use harmful agents or solvents that may damage parts of the alarm. 

If you happen to do any renovations in your house, ensure you clean all smoke detectors that may have been exposed to the dust generated.

Replace All Outdated Alarms

The US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that all smoke alarms should be replaced ten years after the manufacture date or sooner if they don’t respond properly to tests. The UK endorses these recommendations for the replacement of domestic smoke alarms, whether you are using wired or wireless ones. The main reason for this is that the sensitivity of these alarms usually reduces over time, so the number has been established after in-depth research and tests.

Besides that, technology keeps on improving. Modern smoke alarms will have more sensitive and accurate detectors.

Minimize False Alarms

One of the main reasons for maintenance is to improve the overall quality and effectiveness. This therefore includes reducing false alarms, which is one of the main reasons people stop using smoke detectors. Instead of removing the batteries and exposing yourself to risk, you should try to reduce false alarms strategically.

One way of doing this is by reducing the sensitivity of an alarm if it allows you to do that. You should also ensure you use the right smoke detectors in every area. For example, ionization-based smoke detectors often give false alarms when installed in kitchens. During your maintenance, you can replace this with a heat detector or move the alarm further from the triggers. This will help avoid disconnecting alarms and enhance your overall safety.