Smoke Alarm Testing Tips

July 13, 2022

Smoke Alarms (also known as Fire Alarms and Smoke Detectors) are an essential part of every Australian home today. Not only are they required by state law across the country, but most importantly, they help protect the precious lives who live there.

Unfortunately, fire poses a serious risk and can occur when we least expect it, such as during the night. This is why it’s important to ensure your smoke alarms are fully functioning, so they can alert you and your family to any danger.

How do you know when your smoke alarm needs maintenance, a new battery or replacing altogether?

To help you, our Electrical experts have compiled 5 signs that indicate your smoke alarm might need replacing.

1.Smoke Alarm Testing
It’s very important to regularly test your smoke alarms to make sure they are in full working condition. AFAC (National Council for Fire and Emergency Services) recommends that you test your smoke alarms at least once a month by holding down the test button for a minimum of five seconds until the smoke alarm begins to beep. If your test button doesn’t trigger the beep or your alarm is not working properly, then you need to replace your alarm, as it’s not fully functioning to help keep you safe. You can speak to a qualified electrician or the product manufacturer if you have any questions.
2. Regular Cleaning and Maintenance
Like other household appliances, smoke alarms can get dirty. However, a build-up of dust, insects or dirt in your smoke alarms can reduce the sensitivity of smoke sensors, likely decreasing their response time to danger and putting you more at risk. To prevent this, AFAC recommends that your smoke alarm should be vacuumed and dusted once a year. However, if your smoke alarm is clogged up, or dirty beyond repair, then you might need to get it replaced.
3. Every 10 years
All smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years, or sooner if stated by the manufacturer. It’s important to keep up to date with this timeframe, as after this period, your smoke alarms begin to lose their sensitivity, putting your household at greater risk. You can check the age of your smoke alarm by finding the manufacturing code or date of manufacture, which are required by law to be placed on the device. These codes or dates are usually located near the battery component at the base of the alarm. If your smoke alarm is past its expiry date, it’s an extremely important sign that it needs to be replaced!
4. The Type of Smoke Alarm
Over the years, new smoke detection technologies have been introduced into smoke alarms. Smoke alarms with photoelectric sensors are now the suggested smoke alarms for residential buildings. This is because they are highly effective in detecting smoke and smouldering fires, which are the most common cause of household fires. If it has been a while since your smoke alarms have been updated, then they may not have photoelectric sensors. In this case, it’s a sign for you to upgrade your smoke alarms to ensure you have the best chance of escape from household fires.

5. Speak to an O’Brien Electrician
If you are still unsure whether your smoke alarm needs replacing, contact your local O’Brien Electrician and they will be able to answer any of your questions regarding your smoke alarm and provide you with experienced advice as to whether it needs to be replaced.

Remember – a smoke alarm is there to help keep you and your family safe at home. But it can only do this when it’s in good working order. So, pay close attention to the above signs.
If your smoke alarm does show a sign of needing replacement, contact an O’Brien Electrician to get your smoke alarm replaced by a local expert.

This article was contributed by O’Brien Glass.

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