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Disasters can strike at any moment, and it's best to prepare beforehand to tackle any scenario. 

Unfortunately, most people take issues like fire safety casually - forgetting to install, replace, or clean electrical and other appliances around the house. That's until a fire breaks out in the neighbourhood, and you have to evacuate instantly. 

When you're outside and waiting for the firefighters to douse the flames, you understand the enormity of the situation. And your first thought is that it could have happened to you. 

But worry not because we have a simple solution - smoke detectors will help you stay one step ahead even during a dangerous situation. During an emergency, each second is precious, so today's guide focuses on installing and maintaining smoke alarms

A Guide To Smoke Detector Installation And Maintenance

You never realise the importance of specific gadgets at home because you haven't needed them, such as the smoke detector. It’s easy to forget about maintaining them or replacing worn-out components if they remain unused for a long time. 

But smoke detectors remain operational 24x7, unlike other gadgets, so you should clean and replace them regularly. Read the following sections to know more about keeping smoke alarms in top shape. 

Smoke Alarm Close Up In Living Room

A. Purchasing And Installing Smoke Alarms 

We've discussed all the steps ranging from choosing to installing smoke alarms, and you can check them out below: 

1. Research 

We hope you have installed smoke detectors because if not, you should invest in one at the earliest. 

And nothing beats the importance of researching smoke alarms to choose a suitable unit, especially when the existing detectors in your home are over a decade old. You can quickly search for the best smoke alarms on the market to get results about the different types of detectors, including their brand, price, and model. 

As a result, selecting a unit within your budget with all the necessary features to fulfil the safety criteria becomes easy. 

2. Detectors For Every Level 

It's not enough to install a smoke alarm in just one room or floor of your home, but the size of the house determines how many detectors you need. We suggest installing an alarm at every level for maximum safety, with a detector in all bedrooms and outside any sleeping space. 

Also, the attic and basement are different levels, so count them separately while determining how many alarms you need

3. Installation 

Once you choose the best smoke alarms for your home, hire an electrician to install them. The best place to fix the alarms is on a flat stretch of wall or the ceiling, preferably in the middle of the room. 

If you've purchased wall alarms, ensure that they are not more than 12 inches from the ceiling. It would also help if you installed alarms on the stairways to detect fires, giving you enough time to evacuate quickly. Other than that, read the instructions on the box carefully and check whether the devices run on hardwired power. 

B. Maintenance

As with any electrical gadget, it's essential to test the alarms and service them regularly to ensure that they are in working condition. 

Man Removing Smoke Alarm From Roof With Hard Hat

1. Test After Installing 

After installing the alarms, the first thing to do is test them and make people in the house aware of how they work. You'll find a test button on each device; press it to activate the alarm so that everyone is familiar with the sound. 

Also, chalk out an evacuation plan with proper exits and the protocols to follow during an emergency. The purpose of the alarm is to alert you, but you need to evacuate in time for the alarm to have done its job. 

You can also visit the government website and check the fire drills and exercises that every family should learn to stay safe. 

2. Monthly Power Tests 

It's not enough to test the detectors only once after installation, so we suggest that you conduct monthly manual tests. Press the test button on each detector to ensure they are operational and that the alarm is audible to everyone in the house. 

Some alarms might not be easily accessible, so you should take adequate precautions or ask someone to assist you while climbing a ladder. It would be best to use a step ladder rather than a chair in such a scenario for maximum safety. 

3. Changing Batteries 

Despite the long lifespan of detectors' batteries, we recommend changing them annually for your family's safety. Instead of waiting for the batteries to die out, keep a few spare ones close by and replace them on a particular date every year. 

Some people pick an easy-to-remember date. But more importantly, read the manufacturers' instructions to purchase compatible batteries for the alarms to work effectively. 

4. Annual Maintenance 

Apart from testing and replacing the batteries, it would help if you carried out annual maintenance by thoroughly cleaning the smoke detectors. Like most appliances, they accumulate dust and pollutants, but in this case, the problem is more serious because it affects the performance of the fire alarm. 

You can perform light dusting with a dry, old rag to remove dust from the detector's body. But for deep cleaning, it's imperative to take the alarms off the wall after disconnecting them from the power source. 

Then, remove the outer casing and use a dry cloth, a compressor can, or a vacuum attachment to scoop out the dust collected inside. Remember never to use liquid sprays as they could damage the internal circuit. 

When you're satisfied that the alarms are reasonably clean, replace the casing, attach them to the wall, connect the power, and test them again. 

Types Of Smoke Alarms 

Now that we have told you about installing and maintaining smoke alarms, you should know about the best detectors currently available on the market. 

Smoke Getting Near Detector In Home

1. Ionisation Alarms 

These alarms detect invisible fire particles when there is a fast flaming fire so that you can evacuate at short notice. 

2. Photoelectric Alarms 

Photoelectric alarms detect visible fire particles when there is a slow flaming fire. 

As you can see, both these alarms have their pros and cons, and it would be best to install a combination of these models for maximum protection. Some brands incorporate both technologies in a single alarm, known as dual-sensor detectors. 

Summary: Smoke Alarms 

That's everything we had to tell you about smoke alarms and how to keep them in working condition for several years. 

But even with regular maintenance, it's good practice to replace old alarms after ten years. Also, no matter the situation, never disable smoke alarms or forget to replace them after cleaning. This invites trouble and could be the difference between safely evacuating in a disaster or getting trapped inside.

Nor should you use smoke detector batteries for running toys and other appliances or vice-versa. 

You can check out the government's fire safety standards and precautions on the official website if needed. And whenever in doubt, refer to our guide for hassle-free smoke alarm maintenance or installation.

If you need help with a smoke alarm in Melbourne, please do not hesitate to contact us. Precision Electrical & Plumbing has a team of highly trained and dedicated electricians who can install, replace, and service smoke detectors. 


Photo of Justin Morris

Justin Morris

Find them on their website: Precision Electrical & Plumbing, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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