Smoke alarm maintenance is another very simple task that should be performed in addition to weekly smoke alarm testing and yearly battery replacement (some manufacturers might suggest to replace the battery twice a year) – put it on your house maintenance priority list!
Smoke alarms and smoke detectors are two slightly different devices, but they both require maintenance – find out the smoke alarm and smoke detector difference.
Periodical smoke alarm maintenance involves cleaning dust, dirt, and any debris that might have accumulated in small openings and screens covering its sensors.
Never paint smoke alarms or smoke detectors, to avoid clogging of their sensors – this voids warranty and could result in a false alarm or no response in an emergency.
If your house is equipped with a security / alarm system, smoke and / or carbon monoxide detectors might be a part of it. Performing smoke alarm maintenance or testing could result in an alarm buzzing at the security company, police, and / or fire department.
If you’re not sure how your system is set up, contact your security system provider and consult with them prior to attempting any maintenance.
Click on the image (link opens in a new window) and print your smoke alarm testing schedule for the entire year.
Put this smoke alarm testing reminder on your refrigerator, message board… whatever, just remember to do it often! You can involve your kids into the smoke alarm testing and have them mark the schedule every week
DANGER – ELECTRICAL SHOCK HAZARD -
Disconnect Power Before Performing any Smoke Alarm Maintenance
If your smoke alarm is a hard wired type (remove the device from its socket to see if there are wires attached to it), make sure that you turn the power OFF or unplug the wires from the back of the device before cleaning it or changing the battery.
While performing smoke alarm maintenance do not force the cover off the alarm if it appears to be permanently attached, and do not clean the electronic components of the safety device – never submerge the smoke alarm in water! This will void your warranty and you may permanently damage the device.
During smoke alarm maintenance do not spray the device with cleaning agents or waxes, abrasive cleansers, or any cleaner containing ammonia. Such liquids may compromise performance or permanently damage the sensors inside your alarm.
Do Not Use Rechargeable Batteries in smoke alarms. Only alkaline type batteries should be used.
This might be as simple as sliding out a small drawer containing a battery (found on the front or side of the alarm), lifting a battery compartment cover, twisting the entire device, or removing it from the socket to expose a battery compartment, etc. – each manufacturer might have a slightly different design.
Continue smoke alarm maintenance, snap a new battery in place, and fully close the compartment. If it was removed – secure the alarm back in place, turn the power back on, and test device using its TEST button.
Remember to replace the battery at least once a year, or immediately after hearing a low battery indicator chirp – extremely important part of the smoke alarm maintenance. Even if your smoke alarm is powered by your home electrical system and the battery is only a back-up, replace it before it becomes too weak to alert you in an emergency and / or when the power goes off.
If you neglect this smoke alarm maintenance item by just removing old battery from your smoke alarm without replacing it because that chirping noise becomes annoying, you are dramatically lowering your chances of surviving a disaster since the alarm will not sound / don’t compromi.
One more thing – you have to make sure that your smoke alarm placement is correct – without it, even a functional alarm might not sound at all.
This article was written by Dariusz Rudnicki
I'm a retired Illinois home inspector, founder and editor of checkthishouse.com, a blog which attracts around 2 thousand readers daily and is dedicated to answering the many questions of home owners and home buyers. Connect with me on Google+ Find me on Google+ Local