Smoke alarms, also known as smoke detectors, play an important role in the overall security of our homes. If you do not have a working smoke alarm, it’s time to do something about that. Smoke alarms save lives. It may sound silly but it’s true. Don’t underestimate the power of a working smoke detector. Do you know when to change their batteries? Do you know how many you need in your home? Read on to learn everything you need to know about smoke alarms.
How do they work?
There are two types of smoke alarms. Both alarm types are equally effective.
- Ionization alarms contain a small amount of radioactive material that sits in the middle of two electrically charged plates. When air flows between the plates it becomes ionized and when smoke enters the alarm’s chamber it leads to a disruption of the flow of ions. This reduces the airflow, leading the alarm to go off.
- Photoelectric smoke alarms aim a source of light into a sensing chamber at an angle that veers away from the sensor itself. When smoke enters the chamber it reflects light onto the sensor which triggers the alarm.
How many do I need?
You should place smoke detectors on every level of your home, this includes attics and basements.
Can I install them myself?
Absolutely! Smoke detectors should be installed on the ceiling. If this is not a possibility because your ceilings are sloped, you can place your smoke alarms on side walls six to eight inches below the ceiling. It is important to remember that smoke and deadly gases rise so your smoke alarms should be installed as high as possible. Most alarms come with installation instructions and high-grade adhesive to ensure that they stick. You will need a screwdriver and a step-ladder but other than that, you should have no problems putting in your smoke detector.
How long do they last?
Smoke alarms can last up to 10 years. To keep your smoke alarm in good shape, test it monthly and ensure that you change the batteries according to the detector’s make and model – some come with 10-year batteries while others need to be changed yearly. Smoke alarms with batteries that are about to expire will make a chirping noise.
To know when your smoke detector itself will expire, check the manufacturer’s manual. If not you can look the model number up online. Furthermore, it is important to keep your smoke alarm clean because grime and debris can interfere with their detection mechanism. When you’re cleaning your home, don’t forget to give your smoke alarms a quick dusting.
The main concern people have about smoke alarms is that they get triggered during meal preparation. If your smoke alarm goes off while you’re cooking, cut it some slack. It’s just doing its job.