A spark can burn out of control in a matter of seconds! Having functional smoke alarms installed in your home is essential. They signal an early warning and help members of your household evacuate quickly during a fire emergency. But we often assume that smoke alarms require little maintenance; not so! Regular smoke alarm maintenance ensures that they’ll work during those critical moments. Here’s what you need to do when it’s time to check your devices.
How to Conduct Smoke Alarm Maintenance and Testing
- First, let everyone in your household know you are performing smoke alarm maintenance. Additionally, if your smoke alarm connects to your home security system, notify the security system company in advance that you are testing the smoke alarm.
- Have someone stand in the room farthest away from the alarm you are testing to ensure they can hear it elsewhere in the home. If they can hear it go off, you are well-protected. Also, have someone go outside the house to observe the alarm sound outdoors.
- 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. The detector is not sufficiently powered if you don’t hear the alarm. If this is the case, try replacing the batteries or call an electrician if the alarm is hardwired. The alarm may also malfunction, so you may need to 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 your type of alarm.
- Besides conducting manual smoke alarm maintenance, check that the alarm’s sensors are working. Use an aerosol smoke detector tester and spray it toward the alarm; it should go off after a few seconds. If it remains silent, replace it. However, ensure that your smoke alarm’s “silence” button hasn’t been activated accidentally and that no dust or debris is blocking its grates.
- Using real smoke to test the alarm is also an excellent way to check that the sensors will work properly when a real fire occurs. Light two or three matches at least two feet underneath the detector. If the alarm doesn’t trigger, replace it immediately.
The United States Fire Administration recommends replacing your smoke alarms ten years from the manufacture date. Batteries should be replaced annually. Find out more facts about smoke alarms and usage tips in this article.
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