Safety should be a priority in all aspects of your life, which is why every home should have a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector for emergencies. That said, maintaining your home can be overwhelming, so it’s easy to overlook your detectors and their need for regular maintenance.
A well-functioning detector requires more than just a new set of batteries; it also requires routine cleaning and care. Regular maintenance of your photoelectric smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors will keep them in good working order and help keep you and your home safe.
Read on below for our brief guide on smoke alarm maintenance and tips to help keep your smoke alarms and detectors in good condition.
Regularly Test Your Alarms
It’s best to test your smoke alarms around once a month to ensure they are operational in an emergency.
While smoke detector designs can vary, there is a fairly standard method for testing them:
- Start by letting everyone at home know that you will be testing your emergency detectors to prevent anyone from being caught off guard.
- Try to have someone at the farthest point from your detector placed to see how well the alarm can travel in your home.
- Be sure to use a ladder or step stool if the detector is out of reach, and ensure that you’re adequately supported, so you don’t get into an accident.
- On your detector, locate and hold the “test” button for a few minutes to activate the alarm. A functioning smoke alarm should sound a high-pitched alarm that you can hear throughout your home.
If your detectors cannot sound the alarm after you’ve tested them, it may be time to replace the batteries or the entire unit, depending on its age.
Replace Your Batteries On Time
Rather than wait for your alarm’s annoying low-battery warning, try to remember when you replaced the batteries and replace them. Make a date once a year to go through your home and replace the batteries in all the detectors.
If battery replacements bother you, consider mains-powered smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; you’ll still need to replace the emergency batteries now and then, but it’ll be much less frequent than with battery-powered detectors.
Keep Your Detectors Clean And Dust Free
Dirty detectors can cause false alarms, which is why it’s essential to clean the inside and outside of your detectors at least once a month or when. The easiest way to clean the inside of your detectors from dust and debris is by using an air compressor or vacuum cleaner, while wiping the exterior with a damp cloth should suffice.
A clean detector ensures that it will only go off when it is supposed to, saving you the trouble of worrying about false alarms.
Ensure Your Smoke Detectors Are Positioned Correctly
Having your detectors in the correct position is essential to ensure they work correctly and reduce the probability of false alarms.
Each bedroom, enclosed area, and separate floor should have a detector. It would be best to keep all detectors at least 3 metres from cooking appliances or humid areas (kitchen and bathroom) as the vapour particles emitted can lead to false alarms.
If you set your alarms off frequently by cooking, you can try to open a window, turn on the exhaust fans, or wave a towel near the alarm to silence it. If the false alarms persist, try moving the alarm to a nearby area away from the kitchen instead.
Another recommendation is to keep smoke detectors away from windows, doors, and ducts, as increased airflow may reduce their effectiveness. Carbon monoxide detectors are more sensitive than smoke detectors and should be kept away from heat, dust, humidity, and extreme temperatures.
Look Into Your False Alarms
A false alarm can happen for a variety of reasons. Poor positioning is most likely to blame for frequent warnings (such as being too close to the kitchen or bathroom). If that’s not the case, it may be time to investigate if your smoke alarm or CO detector is frequently going off.
Another possibility is that your detectors require new batteries or have accumulated too much dust since the last time you cleaned them. If general maintenance (such as battery replacement or cleaning) is ineffective in resolving your frequent false alarms, it may be time to replace your detector completely.
Replacing Your Detectors
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have a shorter shelf life than other significant appliances, with smoke detectors typically lasting ten years and CO detectors lasting around five years. The main reason is that particles and debris can compromise smoke and CO detectors’ efficiency over time due to accumulated dust, insects, contaminants, and general corrosion of the electrical circuitry.
Most smoke alarms will have an expiration or replace-by date printed on them, indicating when you should replace them. If you need more information on when and if you should replace your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, get in touch with the supplier or manufacturer.
Smoke Alarm Maintenance Guide
Here’s a brief schedule for maintaining your smoke alarms that can help ensure that all your detectors are in order:
Once A Month
- Test your smoke or carbon monoxide by pressing and holding the test button.
- Clean the exterior of your detectors with a wet cloth if necessary.
Every 6 Months
- Vacuum and dust your detectors to keep them free of particles, reducing the chance of false alarms and ensuring the internal sensor is unobstructed.
- Replace the batteries of your battery-powered smoke detectors
- Check the expiry date of your detectors to see if you need to replace the whole unit.
The Necessity Of Smoke Alarm Maintenance
Having suitable fire safety measures and detectors is essential for ensuring your home’s safety and the people in it. While you may hopefully never have to experience a home fire hazard, it always pays to be well-prepared in emergencies.
We hope the steps above have proven helpful in helping you maintain your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Contact your local safety alarm supplier/manufacturer or fire department if you need further clarification.