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How To Test a Smoke Detector

Smoke detectors, or smoke alarms as they are also called, are an easy thing to forget. Fastened to the ceiling, up out of the way, they are neglected and ignored. Most of us will never even use one for the emergency it is intended to alert us to. However, the consequences of not having an operational smoke detector are all too often fatal. It isn't enough to have a smoke detector; it must be operational and that is up to you.

You should check every smoke detector in your house at least once every month. Also check after returning from a vacation or when you have been away for a few days. This applies to battery operated models as well as hard-wired models.

Test each unit by pressing and holding the test button for a second or more, until it sounds. To save yourself the trouble of lugging a step stool around the house, use a broom handle to gently press the button.

The battery should be replaced at least once a year. Choose a date to help you remember this task - we recommend using the date when you set your clocks back in the Fall.

More recently manufactured models of hard-wired electric smoke alarms also use a battery back-up to keep them powered in case of power failure. These models should also have their battery replaced every year.

Resist the temptation to test a unit by blowing smoke into it. Smoke entering the unit will reduce its effectiveness in the future. Smoke detectors, both battery and electric should be replaced every 10 years.

There are two types of smoke detectors, photoelectric and ion. They are both effective, however, for the best choice, choose one that uses both techniques. Another safety issue at home involves carbon monoxide. Consider choosing a smoke detector that also incorporates CO detection.

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