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Important Information about Smoke Alarms You Should Know


Statistics show that almost two-thirds of fire deaths occur in homes without a smoke alarm. Moreover, home fires cause extensive damage to the property. A small fire can easily turn into a tragedy resulting in extensive losses.

If you want to ensure the safety of your family and your home, you should install a smoke alarm. The device can warn the residents when a fire starts. This way, they can quickly vacate the home and do not remain at the mercy of the fire.

Here you will learn about different types of smoke alarms. Also, you will know about some important safety tips when using smoke alarms that can keep your family safe from fires.

Smoke Alarms: An Overview

Smoke alarms are not the same as fire alarms.  Unlike fire alarms, smoke alarms don’t have sprinklers. They also don’t have the ability to inform the fire department and other emergency personnel about a fire. What smoke alarms do is alert you in case a smoke from a fire is detected. This will ensure that all the residents leave the house quickly before the home becomes engulfed in fire.

Here are the common types of smoke alarms you can install in your home.

1. Standard Smoke Alarms

Standard smoke alarms do not come with any fancy features. Their sole function is to detect fire smokes. Once a smoke is detected, the alarm goes off. They can be either battery operated or hard wired.

2. Smart Smoke Alarms

As the name implies, smart smoke alarms alert the homeowner through the smartphone. This is in addition to the alarm that sounds inside the house when the smoke is detected. The alarms can connect to the smartphone through Wi-Fi or the internet. They provide maximum value for the buck resulting in increased safety. Similar to standard smoke alarms, smart smoke alarms can be either battery operated or wired to the home’s electrical system.

3. Battery Operated Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms that are battery-operated are not wired to the electrical system of the house. They run solely on batteries and don’t require professional installation. The only downside to these types is that they require regular battery replacement. The smoke alarms don’t work if the batteries die. This is a risk that you should consider before buying a battery-operated smoke alarm.

4. Hardwired Smoke Alarms

Hardwired smoke alarms are a more reliable option as compared to battery-operated smoke alarms. They can be hooked up to your home’s electrical system. Since there are no batteries, there is no risk of the smoke alarm not functioning during a fire. The only con of the wired smoke alarms is that they can only be installed by a professional. Also, you should note that some of the wired smoke alarms feature a battery backup.

5. Multifunctional Smoke Alarms

The multifunctional smoke alarms provide double protection. They not only have sensors for detecting smoke, but they can also detect a carbon-monoxide leak. Price of the product varies depending on whether they are hardwired, smart, or battery-operated.

6. Ionization Sensors

Smoke alarms with ionization sensors can detect fires through the small smoke that is produced. These smoke alarms consist of two metal plates as well as a radioactive material. Once a smoke passes through the plates, the radioactive material ionizes the air that triggers an alarm.

7. Photoelectric Sensors

Photoelectric sensors are able to detect smoke by using a light source. They can easily detect smoke from smoldering fires that generally tend to make a lot of smoke.

8. Dual Sensors

Dual sensor smoke alarms contain both ionization and photoelectric sensors. The smoke alarms are considered to be safe in detecting flaming and smoldering fires. Generally, they are more costly as compared to other smoke alarms.


Safety Tips when Using Smoke Alarms

Installing smoke alarms is not enough. You also need to take actions to ensure that the smoke alarm remains functional at all times. Here are some safety tips that you should follow after installing a smoke alarm.

1. Test the Batteries Every Month

If you have a battery-only or battery backup smoke alarm, you should test the battery every month. You should replace the battery immediately if you hear a chirping sound. Some people simply forget to test the battery. To avoid this, you should add a reminder to your smartphone. In this way, you will never forget about the important action of checking the battery.

2. Install the Smoke Detector at Proper Place

You should never install the smoke detector near wood stoves or fireplaces. In addition, you should never install the smoke detector near the cooking fumes in the kitchen or smoking areas inside the house. Placing the smoke alarm near these areas can result in false alarms.

You should also avoid placing the smoke detector within three feet of a device that can re-circulate the smoke such as the air registers. The smoke detector near windows and doors is not recommended as well since the draft could impair smoke detection.

The best place for the smoke detector is at the end of each long hallway. Also, the top of the stairwells is another great location for the smoke detector. Make sure that the smoke alarm is kept about 18-inches away from any dead air space near corners and walls if you are installing on the ceilings. If you are installing the smoke detector on the walls, you should place it about 12-inches below the ceiling.

3. Proper Mounting of Wired Smoke Alarm

Wired smoke alarms should be installed by a professional electrician. A professional electrician will know how to correctly install the alarm system without damaging the device and the house wiring. In addition, the professional will ensure that the device is installed on a separate circuit. So, this is a job that you should better leave to an expert.

Lastly, you should replace the smoke alarms in case they have been installed for more than 10 years. If you have no idea about the life of your house alarm, you should consider replacing the device immediately.

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