Did you know they can even expire?
Smoke detectors have a lifespan of around 10 years. So, check yours if your house is older then this or you are unsure how old your detectors are. The manufacturing date is printed on the back of your detector.
Smoke detectors have saved millions of homes, and even more lives. But the cases of detectors being out of order or faulty, are way too many. Smoke detectors are installed in over 50% of houses that have fatal fires, but they only work is 37% of those fires.
So checking them monthly, and not just with that convenient button, might prove essential!
What to do
Press that button
First, use the test button. The test button will let you know if the battery is working, and detectors being out of battery account for most failures. All detectors have a test button that will give of sound when pushed to ensure you that the battery is working. If there is a very low or no sound, this is a sign that the battery is low, and you need to change them immediately.
If there still is no sound after changing the batter, the detector is broken and need to be replaced with a new one. Most detectors will also have a constant or blinking light to let you know the detector is getting power.
Expect to change your batteries about two times a year. Make it a habit of doing this every spring and fall.
Smoke it out
Most advice will tell you just to use the test button, but all that tells you is that the sound and battery is working, not the actual device.But by also using real smoke when testing, you will be sure all parts of your detector work. Light two or three matches and hold them about 2 feet/half a meter away from the smoke detector. The smoke from the matches should quickly set of your alarm. If there is no sound, you need you need to replace your detector immediately.
Some manufactures advise against using open flame near the detector, in those cases you can use a UL-rated can of smoke.These can bought for around $10-15 on Amazon, Leroy Merlin and most other home improvement stores.
When checking the detector each month, also make sure you give it a quick clean. Vacuum or brush away any dust or cobwebs. Also wipe down with a damp cloth to make sure any debris that may cause it to malfunction, is removed. Don’t use any cleaning products directly on the detector, as this could contaminate the sensors.
When checking you smoke detectors, ask a friend for help. While your testing them, ask them to stand as far away from the detector as you might find yourself during an incident. This lets you know if you should consider adding more.
You should have at least one smoke detector on every level of your home and in every bedroom. For extra coverage add detectors in hallways, the top and bottom of the staircase, and kitchen.
Don’t forget often neglected places like basements, attics, utility rooms and garages
Also, be safe when using a ladder, and always ask a friend for help!