How Often Should Smoke Alarms Be Tested?
The safety of your family always comes first, and a functioning smoke detector and fire alarm ensure you will know when to evacuate your home.
You probably already have an evacuation plan for your family in case of emergencies. Similarly, don’t skip any precautions and regularly check your alarms and detectors.
Let’s break down everything there is to know about smoke alarms and keep you and your family safe.
Why Should I Check My Smoke Alarms?
Not maintaining your alarm is extremely dangerous. In fact, 38% of all at-home fire deaths occur from either a lack of smoke detectors or non-functioning ones, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Most of these deaths occur late at night when the residents are asleep — when a loud, reliable alarm is the only way to wake you up and save your life.
Ideally, a smoke alarm will go off before flames have engulfed your home, giving you time to leave and call the fire department. Smoke alarms detect the fumes given off by fire before the blaze gets severe.
Keep in mind these detectors are not “set it and forget it” devices. All battery-powered devices will slowly lose juice over time and eventually cease working. You must regularly check your smoke alarms to make sure they are working. If a fire ever does strike your home, it will be too late to worry about batteries.
Practice the steps laid out in this article, and you will go to sleep easy knowing you are protected.
How Often Should I Check My Smoke Alarms?
Whether you have hardwired or battery-powered detectors, you should check them once a month. The batteries also need a change about twice a year.
A quick way to remember is to change the batteries when we go in and out of Daylight Savings Time during the Spring and Fall. But each manufacturer is different, some may require even more frequent changes. As a rule of thumb, always read the manual before you install a new alarm and closely follow all the instructions.
Every 10 years you need to completely change each and every alarm in your household. On the back of your alarm, you can find the date of manufacturing. Once you have that date, set a reminder for your future self to overhaul your system and revamp your alarms during the next decade.
Battery-Powered Smoke Detectors
Battery-powered smoke alarms require monthly testing. Since they are not connected to your home grid, you cannot be too safe when it comes to checking the batteries.
If you notice any corrosion on the batteries, replace them immediately and make sure the whole system has not been damaged. Never install used batteries, even if you think they have plenty of charge. Always open a new pack of batteries when it comes to your alarms.
Hardwired Smoke Detectors
Hardwired detectors are plugged into your house’s electrical system, but use backup batteries as reserves. To be on the safe side, check your hardwired system once a month.
Replace the batteries twice a year, the same you would for all detectors. Do not rely on your electrical grid to carry the full burden. In the case of a fire during a power outage, you cannot risk a dead battery.
How to Check Smoke Alarms
All smoke alarms are different and might have slightly altered steps according to the specific make and model. But there are a few things they all have in common that you can keep an eye out for.
There should be a small light on your smoke alarm to make sure it is functioning. If that LED is not working, replace your batteries right away until you see a green light.
Every time you check the detector, clean the surrounding area when you remove it. Dust, grime, and even small insects can find their way inside the case and cause malfunctions. Use a cloth or high-pressure keyboard cleaner spray to remove any residue.
When you are ready to check the alarm you should follow these standardized steps:
Warn Everyone In Your Home
The alarm will be a deafening siren, so make sure your family is prepared. Pets are often frightened by the loud sound, so be ready for barking or whining.
Everyone needs to know this is a test – perhaps even warn your neighbors so there are no accidental calls to 911.
Enlist a friend or family member to stand as far away from a detector in your home as possible to ensure it can be clearly heard everywhere.
Consider posting someone just outside too. You should be able to hear the alarm from the porch or backyard to prevent walking into a burning building.
Press The Button
Finally, press and hold the circular or oval white button in the center of the smoke alarm until the siren begins. If you do not hear anything or only hear a small peep after a few seconds, you need to replace the batteries.
Press the button again to shut off the siren.
If you hear your alarm chirping at random times when no one is touching it, that’s a sign it is low on battery and needs replacement.
At All Dry USA, we are prepared to help you recover from any and all unforeseen fire damage. But when you regularly test and maintain your smoke alarms you will lower the chances of a fire getting out of control.
A good smoke alarm alerts you fast enough to bring in the fire department before irreversible destruction takes over.
Be responsible — check and maintain your smoke alarms today, and save a life tomorrow.
Check out our blog to learn more cleaning and safety tips from the professionals at All Dry USA!