Electronic devices are not infallible. Over time, the batteries die, and other parts of the smoke alarm can wear out. One way to help make sure your family is safe in case of a fire is to test them often and replace the batteries or the whole device.
Do You Need to Test Smoke Alarms
The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) says that you should test smoke detectors at least once a month and change the batteries at least once or twice a year. Change the batteries when you move your clocks forward or back for daylight saving time. It will help you remember to do it. Make sure to read the instructions for your smoke detector. If any of the following are true, you may need to check it more often:
- Often, the detector goes off for no reason.
- The alarm keeps making short beeps even when no one is touching it.
- It goes off a lot because of the smoke in the kitchen, which may cause it to wear out faster.
The USFA says that there are two main types of smoke alarms:
- Battery-powered: This kind of smoke alarm can break down if the batteries are bad or old. Testing needs to be done every month. Don’t put old batteries in your fire alarms or smoke detectors.
- Hardwired: These detectors get their power from your home’s electrical system, but they typically have backup batteries in case the power goes out. Even though they are hardwired, hardwired smoke detectors still need to be tested once a month to make sure that the batteries and other parts are working well.
How to Test Smoke Detector
You should always check the instructions that come with your smoke detector and fire alarm to find out how to test them properly. But in general, the USFA says you can do the following to test most battery-powered and hardwired smoke detectors:
Step 1: Tell your family that you are going to test the alarm. Small children may be scared by the high-pitched alarm on smoke detectors, so you should let everyone know when you plan to test the alarms.
Step 2: Put a family member in the room that is the farthest from the alarm. It can be crucial if you want everyone in your home to be able to hear the alarm. Consider putting in more detectors in places where the alarm sounds weak, muffled, or low.
Step 3: Press and hold the smoke detector’s test button. A loud, piercing siren should sound from the smoke detector while the button is pressed. It may take a few seconds. Replace the batteries if the sound is weak or not there at all. Whether your detector is battery-powered or hardwired, if it has been over six months since you last changed the batteries, you should do so now, no matter what the test result was, and test the new batteries one last time to make sure they work. You should also check your smoke detector to make sure that dust or something else isn’t blocking its holes. If there is, even if the batteries are new, they may not work.
Regular Maintenance Is Recommended
The USFA says that smoke detectors have an average lifespan of 10 years. Even if you do regular maintenance and the device still works, you should replace it after ten years or sooner if the manufacturer says to.
Installing smoke detectors can be an excellent way to keep your family safe, but assuming they are working can be dangerous. Taking a few minutes to check on them occasionally can help ensure they’re working right.