Testing the Smoke Alarms in Your Home to Check for Functionality

Having a smoke alarm installed in your home is one of the cheapest ways to keep your family safe from smoke and fire injuries. But in order to ensure its functionality, you need to test it. A fully functional smoke detector can increase your odds of surviving a fire breakout by warning you that there is fire during its early stages.

At the very least, you should have one smoke alarm or detector for every level of your property and in every bedroom. In addition, you could install alarms on hallways outside each bedroom, at the top and bottom of stairways and of course garages, attics, basements and utility rooms.

What are the types of smoke detectors?

  • AC-powered smoke detectors – This type of smoke detector is usually installed by electricians or people who have experience working around with electricity. These units are more reliable in the long run because their power source is directly wired. Apart from the direct wiring, they also have battery backup so they can operate even when there is blackout or electrical fire that affects your power supply.
  • Battery-powered smoke detectors – These are relatively inexpensive units that you can install anywhere but this requires frequent inspection to make sure that the unit is still functional and has good set of batteries.
  • There are also newer models of smoke detectors that feature the hush-button that mutes the annoying false alarm and automatically desensitizes the equipment until the air is cleared during reset. Some high-end models include safety lights that switch on during alarm activation. There are other models that can be used as security surveillance systems too, as they are disguised as smoke detectors.

    All smoke alarms are equipped with test button that you can push to determine whether the unit is functional, wherein the alarm will sound just the same. Most units also have either solid or blinking light that glows to signify that the alarm has adequate power supply.

    The units must be tested for functionality at least once every month, which you can easily do by pushing the test button. If the alarm will not sound, the battery is dead but if after you’ve changed the batteries and it is still not operable then you need to replace the unit immediately.

    Battery-powered units are built with a device that makes a sound when the batteries are low thus will notify you that they are in need of replacement. But even then, you should not wait until this point to replace the batteries. Your batteries must be regularly replaced at least two times each year – ideally during spring and fall.

    Do not remove the battery from the alarm so you can use it on another appliance like toys, remote control or radio. While people do this with every intention of replacing the batteries, many will only remember that they removed the battery as they look at their house burn – if they got lucky escaping the breakout that is.

    As you regularly check out the battery monthly, try to clean up the alarm so dirt and dust will not accumulate on the unit. Do not use sprays or solvents on the unit because it might contaminate the sensors.

    The button that’s included in every unit allows you to determine whether the batteries are in good condition but it doesn’t say anything about the functionality of the detector. If you really want to find out whether the unit works you can light a few matches and blow them off so the smoke goes toward the unit.

    After a decade, a smoke detector has tolerated over 87,000 hours of uninterrupted operation. During this time, the internal sensors probably accumulated dust, residues and dirt. Therefore, if you have an alarm that’s over 10 years old, you should consider buying a new one to maintain fully functional smoke detecting capabilities in your property.

    Written in behalf of Aucom Surveillance, which provides security cameras and other CCTV cameras for business and home use.

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