Chances of dying, getting hurt, or losing a property to fire are cut by almost half when you invest in a working smoke alarm system. This is especially important because modern furniture and other items in the home can easily catch fire and quickly deteriorate into ashes.
So, how do you install and maintain smoke alarms? To ensure you have an effective smoke alarm system, do the following:
- Choose the right smoke alarms
- Determine potential fire hotspots
- Install smoke alarms accordingly
- Test the system
- Teach every household member the basics
Read on to get a better understanding of how to install your smoke alarm system.
1. Choose the Right Smoke Alarms
Choosing the right smoke alarms for your home is key to keeping everyone and everything safe. Choose alarms that have a label of a reputable testing laboratory. Note that cheaper options may save you some money but may not be as effective as those that go for a relatively higher price.
It is a good idea to buy all your alarms from the same manufacturer because that makes it easier for them to be paired. Some examples of reliable alarms include:
- First Alert CO605 Plug-In Battery Backup CO Alarm
- Kidde AC Hardwired Interconnect Smoke Detector Alarm
- Google, S3000BWES, Nest Protect Smoke Alarm
2. Determine Potential Fire Hotspots
Potential fire hotspots within the home are those places that are more likely to have a fire outbreak.
- The kitchen is one of the main hotspots because it has things like the electric oven, stove, and microwave.
- Another potential hotspot is the living room where you have electronics such as the television, home theater system, and fan.
- The bedrooms and basement are also areas you should consider as potential hotspots.
The number of fire alarms to include in your system will largely depend on the number of potential hotspots in the house. For instance, it is not a good idea to install a fire alarm in one bedroom and ignore the other two.
3. Install Alarms According to Instructions
Make sure to follow the instructions given when installing alarms. Smoke alarms in the basement should be on the ceiling and at the bottom of the stairs. In other rooms, the best location is the ceiling or walls. Ensure they are at least 10 feet away from cooking appliances because that will minimize the chances of false alarms.
Do not install alarms near doors, windows, and air ducts because drafts may end up interfering with them. Additionally, don’t attempt to paint or put stickers on the alarms because that may hinder them from working correctly.
4. Test the Smoke Alarm System
Once you are confident that everything is in place, make sure you test your alarm system. The following are some of the ways to test your alarms:
- Use a lighter or candle to make some smoke rise to the alarm sensor.
- Press the test button on the control panel of the alarm.
You must test all the alarms in every room to ensure full protection.
5. Interconnect Alarms
Once all alarms are installed, pair them so that when one goes off, all the rest can also go off and alert people or the relevant authorities. Alarms that are not from the same manufacturer may not pair well, so there is always the possibility that they won’t trigger as required.
Most modern smoke alarms come with the option of interconnecting each unit using a specific wire. Whenever one unit goes off, it sends out an electric signal that triggers every other unit connected. That makes the alarm system more audible and effective in detecting and containing fire outbreaks.
6. Teach Every Household Member the Basics
Immediately after installation, teach every member of the household how to treat the alarms. Let them know how to turn off false alarms and what to do in case there is a fire outbreak. In some instances, they may have to put out the fire with an extinguisher if available.
However, in case the fire is already getting out of hand, let them know they can call 911 for immediate help. Each member of the family should have this emergency number on the speed dial. Additionally, the number should be displayed on open surfaces such as the refrigerator door.
How to Maintain Smoke Alarms
After successfully installing smoke alarms, you must also be sure to observe good practice when it comes to maintenance. Here are some tips on how to maintain your alarm system.
Check the Batteries
If your alarms require batteries to work, you need to check the batteries at least once every two or four weeks, depending on the type of batteries they use. AA and 9V are the most common smoke alarm batteries. Both these batteries tend to have a life expectancy of six months.
Of course, some alarm systems come with batteries that can last for a much longer time. However, some batteries may become defective, which is why checks are advisable.
If you notice any problem with the batteries, ensure you change them as soon as you can. Alarms with non-replaceable batteries often give out a warning chirp or notification when the battery is almost dying out. Replace such alarms immediately when the chirping begins.
Inspect Alarms Physically
A physical examination of the alarms in your home can reveal any issues. By carefully checking every part of the system, you may come across issues such as water leaks, obstructions, and wear and tear. Once you notice any of those issues, you can carry out repairs and ensure the alarms are safe from any interference by the elements or other items that may cause damage.
Testing and Cleaning
Testing your alarms at least once a month is a key to ensuring that they are working. Testing requires that you use the testing button. It is also a good idea for you to clean your alarms according to instructions provided by the manufacturer.
Remember that dust or other particles may be deposited on the alarms and can, therefore, cause some obstruction. Vacuuming the units or using a dry piece of cloth to wipe off any dust or dirt on the alarm can be all it takes to keep them working optimally.
You need to ensure that the alarm is placed strategically in the room. Remove any furniture or item that may cause obstruction. That is because when objects are in the way of the alarm’s sensor, they may cause a delay in detection. Any delay can lead to severe damage to your property. It is also essential to remove any stickers or decorations that may have been placed on the alarm.
Keep the Instruction Manual
Smoke alarms usually come with an instruction manual. The manual contains helpful information that can include how to maintain, clean, and troubleshoot the alarm. Reading the manual can be an excellent way to help you keep your system up and running.
Smoke alarms can be your first line of defense against fire outbreaks. They are not so expensive and are relatively easy to install and maintain. Once in place, it is crucial to ensure that everyone in the household knows how to operate the alarms.
It is also vital for each member to know exactly how to react in case the alarms go off. Finally, installing alarms in every room in your home is key to ensuring that your property and everyone in it is safe. Keep in mind an alarm sounding in the basement may not be audible in the living room where there is loud music. Interconnecting all the alarms in your home is, therefore, the best way to go.