One appliance that most homeowners install and tend to forget about, (save the occasional changing of batteries) are the smoke detectors or smoke alarms. These small, unassuming devices should not be taken for granted however. With more than a half million house fires a year, over ten billion in damages and thousands of deaths a year, smoke detectors can be the difference between life and death. Early detection can also mean less loss of property. Let’s take a closer look at smoke detectors and how you may want to upgrade the ones you currently have.
All homes, businesses and dwellings should have smoke alarms according to the law. The National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code states that every home shall have a smoke detector inside AND outside every sleeping area and on every level of the home (including the basement). The first standalone ionization smoke detector was introduced to the public in 1970 followed by the photoelectric smoke detector in 1972. Since that time, smoke detectors have advanced greatly and can now be connected to your home security, have 24/7 monitoring and can even linked to your smartphone through home integration.
Types of Sensors
- Photoelectric: The sensor of choice for most homes and businesses. The photoelectric sensor responds faster to the smoldering stage of a fire that causes the most injuries and deaths in residences. This type is less prone to nuisance false alarms from cooking and steam.
- Ionization: The ionization sensor responds faster to the flaming stage of a fire. It is more prone to nuisance false alarms from cooking and steam.
- Combination or Dual Sensor: Contains a photoelectric and ionization sensor. It is still more prone to false alarms from cooking and steam due to the ionization sensor component.
Set Up –
Choosing a sensor type is then followed by how you want your smoke alarm wired. Do you want it to be hardwired or connected to your security system and have monitoring? With interconnected alarms, when one smoke alarm sounds, all other smoke alarms in the home sound as well, which creates an early warning to occupants in all areas and allows as much time as possible to escape.
Smoke Alarm Maintenance Tips
- Test your smoke alarms on a monthly basis. If this is too much definitely test them at the change of seasons.
- Replace the batteries on your smoke alarm whenever you hear it chirp or once a year, whichever comes first.
- Replace the entire smoke alarm at least every 10 years.
In the event of a false alarm, never remove the battery or disconnect the power source. Simply fan the smoke or steam away from the smoke alarm until the alarm stops. Some smoke alarms come with a button you can push to temporarily silence the alarm.