How to Test Your Smoke Alarms and When to Replace Them

Fire Restoration

Smoke alarms are crucial to preventing fire deaths and injuries during a home fire. However, you need to maintain and test them regularly to ensure they’re working properly at any given moment. Here are the steps involved in testing a smoke alarm in your home:

How to Test Your Smoke Alarm

  • First, make sure everyone in your household knows you will be performing a smoke alarm test.  In addition, if your smoke alarm is connected to your home security system, let the security system company know you are testing the smoke alarms.
  • Have someone stand in the room farthest away from the alarm you are testing to ensure that the alarm is heard in all rooms of your home. If he/she hears it, you are well-protected. Also, have someone stand outside the house to check that the alarm is heard around your home.
  • When everyone is ready, use a sturdy chair or ladder to reach the alarm. Locate the test button, then push and hold it for a few seconds to trigger the alarm. If you don’t hear the alarm or if the sound is weak, the detector is not powered properly. In this case, try replacing the batteries or call an electrician if the alarm is hardwired. The alarm may also be malfunctioning, in which case you should replace it. If the alarm sounds, it will automatically turn off after a few seconds, or you may need to push the test button again, depending on the type of alarm you have.
  • In addition to testing your alarm manually, you should also check that its sensors are working. Use an aerosol smoke detector tester and spray it towards the alarm; it should go off after a few seconds. If the alarm doesn’t sound, replace it. However, make sure that your smoke alarm doesn’t have a “silence” button that has been activated and that there’s no dust or something else blocking its grates.
  • Using real smoke to test the alarm is also a good way to check that the sensors will work properly when a real fire occurs. Take 2 or 3 matches and light them at least 2 feet underneath the detector. If the alarm doesn’t trigger, replace it immediately.

Keep in mind that smoke alarms can also go off due to many reasons besides smoke. Check out why a smoke alarms sounds when there’s no actual smoke involved.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that you should test your smoke alarms monthly and replace them every 10 years. Batteries should also be replaced at least once a year. Find out more facts about smoke alarms and usage tips in this article. For professional fire, water, and mold restoration services, contact your local PuroClean office.

Last edited on 16th of August 2023