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A Smoky Situation

Smoke alarms are a wonderful device that helps us stay safe in our homes. However, since they are often out of sight, out of mind we don’t maintain them properly. One thing holds true, the alarms will start chirping in the middle of the night beginning with the most out of reach smoke alarm first.

Maintaining our alarms is simple and effective if done properly. The manufacturer maintenance instructions should always be followed, but here are some standard maintenance tips:

· Change batteries every 6 months. Even if your smoke alarms are hardwired into your homes electrical system. If your smoke alarm has a sealed in place lithium battery replace smoke detector every 10 years. If your smoke alarm is chirping, replace the battery.

· Don't forget to replace the batteries in all the detectors at the same time.

· Test each smoke alarm after you replace the battery. If your smoke alarms are interconnected, you may need to keep holding the test button until you hear another one go off.

· Gently vacuum out unit when you change the battery (or every 6 months).

· Replace smoke alarm every ten years. Look for date on back on smoke alarm. If no date present, replace smoke alarm, its over 10 years old. Or if your smoke detector is now looking like your grandma’s harvest gold refrigerator, replace it.

If your smoke alarm has repeated false alarms, it may be an indication of needing to be replaced.

Recommend replacing all interconnected smoke alarms with same brand of smoke alarm. For safety, a licensed electrician should replace interconnected smoke alarms, especially if the wiring harness needs to be changed out. Damage to one or more smoke alarms may occur if wires are accidentally crossed.

If a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm goes off, always treat it as a real alarm first, get out!

Maintaining your smoke alarms is an important part of normal home maintenance. And with the holidays upon us, they prevent people from getting hurt every day. Let’s all stay safe out there!

- Ken Holaday, Professional Home Inspector


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