The majority of all fire fatalities happen in homes with no working smoke detectors.
As one of the most valuable safety devices in your home, your smoke detectors should always be well maintained. Your chances of surviving a house fire are much greater if you have properly placed, working smoke detectors in your home. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly 66% of fatalities from house fires happened in homes without working smoke detectors between 2003-2006.
It is very common for most homes to have smoke detectors installed within them. In many cases, however, these alarms are either not working properly or not placed in the right places. Unfortunately, improperly placed or broken smoke detectors will not do much to help you in the case of a fire.
Getting the Most Protection From Your Smoke Detectors
You can get the most protection by:
- Making sure your smoke detectors are properly located
- Replacing all smoke detector batteries at least once a year. This goes for both 9-volt battery powered smoke detectors and the back-up batteries that you can find in hard-wired smoke detectors
- Replacing your smoke detector units at least once every 8-10 years, or according to manufacturer’s recommendations in the case of long-life lithium battery units.
- If there is anyone in your home who is hearing impaired, make sure that you install smoke alarms that are designed to vibrate or have flashing lights whenever smoke is detected.
Is This Something I Can Do Myself?
In most cases, you should be able to purchase a battery-powered smoke detector and install it without any help. When you do this, however, make sure to consult local building codes for placement guidelines.
In the case of hard-wired smoke detectors, the U.S. Fire Administration recommends that homeowners have these installed by a licensed electrician.
How Much Do They Cost?
The price of your smoke detector depends on which unit you select. In most cases, prices will range from $10 to $40. This does not include the cost to install the unit.
How Do I Maintain Them?
Most smoke detectors are designed to chirp whenever their batteries are low. You should make sure to follow these maintenance steps, recommended by the U.S. Fire Administration.
Conduct a test of all smoke detectors at least once a month. Depending on how your smoke alarms are powered, additional maintenance may be necessary. Power sources include:
- 9-volt batteries. Replace these once a year.
- Long-Life (10-year) Lithium batteries. These batteries have a long lifespan. You will need to replace the entire smoke detector according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Hard-wired smoke detectors are connected directly into your home’s electrical system. These will also have back-up batteries, which should be replaced at least once a year.
In addition to replacing the batteries, you should replace your smoke detectors every 8-10 years, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.
If you have smoke detectors in your home that are older than eight years, then make sure to either replace them yourself or call us for a free estimate on the installation of new smoke detectors.
Are my smoke detectors positioned properly?
If you are not sure whether your smoke detectors are properly placed or not, follow the guidelines below. When you are installing battery-powered smoke detectors on your own, always make sure to follow local building codes.
As a general rule, smoke detectors should be placed as followed:
- At least one placed on each level of your home.
- One smoke detector in each bedroom.
- One smoke detector within 10-15 feet of the door in each bedroom.
In addition to following the above placement guidelines, you should always place smoke detectors in areas where they can easily detect smoke. This means placing them either high up on walls or on the ceiling. All smoke detectors should also be placed away from fans, vents and windows that could blow the smoke away from the unit.
All hard-wired smoke detectors should be on circuits that cannot be turned off with a switch.
In many cases, smoke detectors will deliver false alarms if they are placed too close to kitchen stoves or showers. The steam and normal cooking smoke from these areas can often trigger the sensitive detection mechanisms. Your best bet is to move these smoke detectors to areas that better fit your local placement guidelines.
If you have any question about your smoke detectors, or the installation of new detectors, please call us today for a free consultation.