What You Need to Know About Testing Your Smoke Alarms

Have you ever tested your smoke alarms in your home? Apparently, over a fifth of households never test them and one in ten households do not even have a smoke alarm. It’s certainly not worth the risk of not having any, or even not checking if they are in working order.

However, what’s worse is it’s estimated almost 40% of battery-powered smoke alarms actually fail to activate in fires. Often, this is because the fire does not actually reach the device, so it is recommended as a bare minimum to have a smoke alarm on each floor of your house and ensure they are positioned accordingly. Ideally, you would also have them in every bedroom, hallway and forgotten areas, such as basements, utility rooms and garages.

Types of Smoke Alarms

There are generally two types of smoke alarms: battery operated or installed and wired to your house electrics. However, even hard-wired smoke alarms often have a battery back-up for when there is a power cut. Therefore, it’s still important to regularly test these too. If you do have hard-wired smoke alarms, ensure they have been correctly installed by a qualified electrician

Residential Fires

Residential fires naturally occur more often in the winter months, due to people spending more time at home and using heaters, electric blankets and open fires to keep warm. So, if you do not currently have a smoke alarm, we would urge you to purchase at least one. If you are in rented accommodation, check if you have any smoke alarms installed and if you don’t, speak to your landlord, as it is required under legislation to have smoke alarms installed and tested in rented accommodation.

How to Test Your Smoke Alarm

Smoke alarmsGenerally, you should refer smoke alarm’s manufacturer’s requirements. But the following steps can be followed:

  1. Visually inspect the smoke alarm to ensure there’s no damage, dust or other substance blocking it from working.
  2. Press and hold the test button and you should hear a loud siren sound. If you do not hear the sound, replace the batteries and try again. If it still does not work, replace the unit or contact your electrician for guidance.
  3. When testing the smoke alarm, can you hear the siren in the rest of the house? If not, consider installing additional smoke alarms for additional safety.
  4. You can also check the smoke alarm works by lighting a match and blowing it out underneath the smoke alarm to ensure it activates. If the siren does not sound, replace the batteries and try again. If in doubt, contact your electrician.

Carbon Monoxide

In addition to smoke alarms, carbon monoxide is a danger that should not be ignored. Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas, which is extremely hard to detect, due to its odourless smell, no taste or colour. It is known as the ‘silent killer’ for this very reason.

Carbon monoxide is caused by fuels not burning correctly, so all fuel-burning appliances, such as boilers, cookers and gas fires should be routinely checked and correctly serviced, to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have a fire place with a working chimney, it is also recommended to get this regularly cleaned and free from any blockages.

For extra peace of mind, you can buy a carbon monoxide detector for your home that will sound an alarm if it detects any of the gas. These are reasonably cheap to buy and can be battery operated so easy to install.

If you would like any information or advice on your current smoke alarms or would like a quote on having new ones installed, please contact us today.

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