It’s an overused saying – better safe than sorry. Most fire deaths occur in homes lacking smoke detectors. To protect your loved ones, it is imperative that you install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. This article tells you how.
Measure the distance between the mounting holes on the back of the mounting bracket.
Mark the same distance on your chosen location.
Drill small holes at the marks.
Attach the mounting bracket to the surface with the screws. See “Tips” for seeking professional assistance.
Mount the rest of the detector into the bracket.
Routinely test your detectors. Push the test button to elicit a loud noise. If there is no noise, or a faint noise, you should check or change the batteries. For smoke detectors, you can also test the detector using simulated smoke. SeeHow to Test a Smoke Detector.
- If you are using hardwire detectors, have a qualified electrician help. Double check the instruction manuals for each specific brand. In fact, make sure to thoroughly read the instructions that accompany your smoke or carbon detector, as there may be differences from what is outlined here that are specific to your model.
- The FDNY recommends keeping bedroom doors closed when you sleep, or have detectors on every level of the home.
- Besides using the test button to test the detector, you can use simulated smoke to check for thing like blocked openings on the detector. Purchase a small aerosol spray can of smoke detector test gas. You can buy these for a few dollars at some well-stocked hardware and home improvement stores, or, search for a can on the Web. Just spray some of the test material into the detector. If it alarms, you know the unit will sound reliably. If not, you have a non-functioning smoke detector EVEN IF IT BEEPS WHEN YOU PUSH THE BUTTON. Try changing the batteries. If that does not get it working, it is useless. Replace it as soon as possible.
- It is a good idea to have someone go to a part of the house or apartment that is as far from the smoke detector as possible when conducting a function test, to determine whether the alarm can be clearly heard at that distance. Remember, it has to be loud enough to awaken the deepest sleeper in the household! If there is any question as to whether the alarm is loud enough, you need to install at least one more detector at that end of the house or apartment. The best arrangement is to have a detector in each bedroom, in the hall leading to the bedrooms, and in any large living areas (living room, den, basement room, etc.) Sure, they cost money and they are a chore to install, but this is about your life, and the lives of those in your home. Buy less expensive, basic detectors if money is tight. The cheap ones work fine. Just get enough of them to do the job, install them, and test them periodically.
- To turn off the alarm after testing (with either smoke or test spray) use a vacuum cleaner. You can hold a small, hand-held vacuum under the detector and quickly suck out the test material, and the alarm will silence. If you only have a full-sized vacuum (the kind with wheels) use the extension tubes to suck the test material out of your smoke detector.
- A few times a year, use a vacuum cleaner (a hand-held or full-sized with extension tube) to gently remove dust from the internal components and the slots cut into the unit’s cover. Dust in either place could interfere with early detection of a fire in your home.
- Smoke detectors have a reliable service life of ten years. Replace any smoke detector of unknown age (for example, when moving into a new residence) and again every ten years.
- Carbon monoxide detectors have a chemical that helps in the detection process. This needs to be replenished over time, so be sure to check this as well as the batteries.
- Know whose responsibility it is to install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors if you are renting; it will likely differ from states to state, province to province, county to county etc.,
- Sure, they cost money and they are a minor chore to install, but this is about your life, and the lives of those in your home. Buy less expensive, basic detectors if money is tight. The cheap ones work fine. Just get enough of them to do the job, install them properly, and test them regularly.
- Never test a smoke detector using actual smoke (from a flame, cigarette, incense, etc). Besides being a fire hazard in itself, the soot from the smoke can foul up the detection chamber making the detector less sensitive.
- Note that there are two types of smoke detectors: ionization andphotoelectric. Ionization smoke detectors detect fast spreading fires resulting from burning combustibles such as paper or grease. These account for 70% of home fires. Photoelectric detectors detect slower fires, such as those that smoulder for hours before taking off; for example, a cigarette on bedding or couches. These account for 30% of home fires. Health Canada recommends installation of both types of smoke detectors to provide wider coverage and earlier alerts. Note that some detectors can detect both.
- Always check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly! A depleted battery will prevent the alarm from working and many homes and lives have been destroyed because the batteries in detectors were dead.
- Intermittent beeps from a smoke or carbon monoxide detector are a warning that you need to replace the batteries. Keep batteries on hand for this and heed the beeping.
- Avoid using rechargeable batteries in alarms, unless instructed otherwise in the manufacturer’s installation manual. Rechargeable batteries can lose their charge faster than non-rechargeable, and so, may not be as reliable in an emergency. (This does not apply to AC – that is, “wired in” – alarms with backup batteries. For these alarms, read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.)
- If your detector takes more than one battery, always change both, and use the same type of battery in brand new condition. Mixing battery types, or using new batteries and used ones together, will make your alarm unreliable, and could even damage it.
- Do not “borrow” batteries from other devices. You have no way of knowing whether these batteries are in good shape.
- Replace any smoke detector over the age of 10 years. To be safe, when moving into a new residence, replace any detectors of unknown age.