Smoke Detectors: What You Need to Know

Smoke detectors might be the most important safety feature in your home.

If maintained, these handy little devices can help ensure you and your family remain safe, alerting you to any emergency situation so you can get out safely.

But smoke detectors only do their job if they’re functional. Properly maintaining your smoke detectors can help everyone in your home sleep better at night.

How to maintain smoke alarms

Maintaining your smoke detectors doesn’t have to be difficult, but doing so pays off big time to ensure everyone’s safety. It only takes a few minutes to make sure that everything is working properly, and those minutes are well worth it. Here’s what you need to consider when maintaining your smoke alarms at home:

1. Make sure they’re in the right spots

Smoke detectors installed in the wrong areas of the home aren’t helpful to anybody. If your family all sleeps on the third floor of your home but the only detector can be found in the basement, it’s probable that if an emergency situation arises, you won’t be notified in time.

So, choosing the right spots is crucial to the proper function of your home’s safety. There needs to be a smoke detector outside each bedroom and sleeping area. You’ll also want to make sure that there is a smoke detector on every floor including the basement.

2. Test your alarm regularly

Testing your smoke alarm doesn’t have to be challenging, nor does it have to be a big feat every time. But you do want to make sure you do it on a regular basis (once a month is what’s usually recommended), so they’re functional if an emergency situation arises.

Smoke detectors vary slightly in design and it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. There is however a pretty standard approach to testing them:

  • Start by letting everyone know you’ll be testing the alarm so no one gets caught off guard.
  • Position someone as far away from the detector as you can to test how far the sound reaches in your home.
  • If you need a ladder or step stool to reach the smoke detector, make sure you’re properly supported and not to fall.
  • Locate, press and hold the “test” button on your detector. It might take a moment or two to kick in, but a working smoke alarm should emit a high-pitched alert that can be heard throughout your home.

If you test the smoke alarm and find that it is emitting a low or no sound at all, it’s time to replace the batteries. After ten years, a device needs to be replaced altogether.

3. Regularly replace the battery

You don’t want to wait until the batteries run out to replace them. This could leave you in a vulnerable position if there is an emergency situation as your alarm might noy be loud enough to alert everyone. 

Smoke alarms are designed to be on all the time, which means at some point the batteries will run out. It’s often recommended that you replace the batteries once a month. While this might seem a tad bit over cautious, at least you’ll have some peace of mind.

Many smoke alarms are equipped with backup batteries that are activated in the event that the main battery fails. With that in mind, you’ll want to ensure the backup batteries are also in good shape. 

Ensuring a safe home

Regular home maintenance activities can sometimes be tedious, but performing them can ensure that you and your family are safe. Smoke detectors are a tool you never want to use, but knowing they’re in working condition should something happen helps to provide the peace of mind you deserve in your home.

Check out the free GarbageDay app weekly for new tips and tricks designed to help you keep your home in tip top shape.

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There’s more to caring for your home than taking out the trash. We give you seasonal reminders about things like when to change your air filter, check and seal your driveway, turn off your hoses, and anything else that needs adjusting through the seasons. We even give you step-by-step instructions on how to get these things done.

This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by RBC Ventures Inc. or its affiliates.

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