While often thought of more as an annoyance when cooking than a life-saving device, smoke alarms are an essential part of keeping you and your home safe from fire.
According to research at Macquarie University, there are more deaths in Australia caused by house fires than there are from all natural hazards combined.
That’s why it’s important to make sure your smoke alarm installation is up to standard in order to prevent you and your family from getting hurt in a residential fire.
Here’s everything you need to know about installing and servicing smoke alarms the right way.
What Is a Smoke Alarm?
Smoke alarms or detectors are devices that are meant to alert you whenever it senses smoke, as a means of indicating that there’s potential for a fire. These devices are typically housed in round, plastic disk-shaped enclosures and mounted to the ceiling.
There are two main components of a smoke alarm — a sensor that detects smoke, and a mechanism that sounds an audible alert as a warning of the presence of smoke. Most domestic smoke alarms are powered using a battery and operate as standalone units, although in some cases smoke alarms can be interconnected.
Types of Smoke Alarms
While most residential smoke detectors in Australia share the same features, there are various methods of alerting occupants, including:
- Audible sounds
- Spoken voice warnings
- Visual strobe lights
- Emergency lighting
- Tactile alerts
Smoke alarm types in Australia also may differ in terms of their method for detecting smoke. The two main types of smoke detecting methods are:
Ionization Smoke Detection
This method uses a radioisotope to ionize the air and issue an alert when it notices a difference in the air due to smoke.
Optical Smoke Detection
Photoelectric or optical smoke detectors use infrared, visible, or UV light to detect changes in the air that would indicate the presence of smoke. If the intensity of the light falls below a certain level as a result of smoke, the detector immediately generates an alarm.
How Often Should You Test Your Smoke Alarm?
You should be testing your alarms at least once a month to make sure they’re functioning properly.
The most effective way to test your smoke alarm is to get a local electrician to come assess your smoke alarm system for you. This will ensure that you’ve covered all bases when it comes to protecting your home from fire hazards, including checking that both the detector and alarm components of your smoke alarm are working the way they should.
When and How Should You Install Your Smoke Alarm?
Your house should have a smoke alarm installed at all times in order to keep you and your family safe from any house fires. Because of how vital your smoke alarm system is to the safety of your household, we recommend that you hire an electrician to help you install your smoke alarms. Getting an expert to install your smoke alarms is the best way to ensure your smoke alarms are working properly and are also placed in the best areas of your home to warn you of a potential fire.
How Much Does a Smoke Alarm Installation Cost?
The cost to install a smoke alarm system in your house will vary depending on the unique needs of your house as well as the type of smoke alarms you decide to use.
If you’re looking for professionals to help you upgrade or install your smoke detectors and fire alarms, our team of certified electricians are ready to service your home today. Speak with our experts and get a free quote for your smoke alarm installation.
Where Should You Place Smoke Alarms in Your Home?
There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to proper smoke alarm placement. Since every house is different from the next, the best way to determine the appropriate smoke alarm locations within your home is to hire an expert with experience in placing smoke alarms in the perfect spots to give you the best chance of catching a fire before it starts. Contracting a licensed technician will also make sure you stay out of harm’s way when it comes to installing smoke alarms in harder-to-reach areas of your house, such as high ceilings that can only be accessed by ladder.
To give you a basic set of guidelines for where to install smoke alarms in your home, the National Fire Alarm and Signaling code states that each smoke alarm must be:
- Installed on every floor of your property
- Located outside every bedroom/sleeping area
- Positioned so the siren can be clearly heard from wherever you are in the building.
- Suitable for all occupants’ needs (for example, those with hearing disabilities must be equipped with an alarm that combines audible, visual and tactile alerts)
- Kept away from breezy areas (for example windows and air-conditioning ducts) to allow the detector to accurately sense smoke
Why Is My Smoke Alarm Beeping?
Smoke alarms will put out a “beep” for two different reasons, although each reason has a different kind of beeping sound.
In the event that your alarm detects smoke, it will send out a loud, pulsating beep that will not stop until you deactivate the alarm. This is the smoke alarm indicating that it senses smoke.
In other cases, the alarm may make a much more infrequent beeping noise, which is a sign that it is running low on power and needs a battery change.
How Do You Change a Smoke Alarm Battery?
The best way to change a smoke alarm battery is to have a licensed electrician change it for you whenever you schedule a home electrical inspection. As many smoke alarms are located in hard-to-reach places around your house, getting a certified professional to help you is the safest way to replace the smoke alarm’s battery.
However, in situations where you’re able to easily access the smoke alarm, changing the battery is as simple as dismounting the alarm, opening it up, and then ensuring that you’re replacing the battery with the right type.
As a general rule of thumb, smoke alarm batteries should be replaced every 6 months on average.
How Do You Open a Smoke Alarm?
This depends on the kind of smoke alarm model you have. For certain types of smoke alarms, opening it up to change the battery is as simple as twisting the shell open. For other types, you will need to use a screwdriver to open up the back door. There are also models that have a sliding door that can be popped open with your fingers. The best way to figure out how to open up your smoke alarm is to refer to the manual specific to your make and model of smoke alarm.