Feb 13, 2020


Smoke Detector Safety: Master These Quick Steps

Take control of your fire safety plan by practicing good smoke detector safety. Here are some maintenance tips that can keep you safe.

Sometimes, providing home happiness means getting serious. Fire safety is about as serious as it gets around the home. Fully functioning smoke detectors and fire alarms can save a lot more than just your property.

Smoke detectors and fire alarms are so common, it’s easy to forget these life-saving devices still need regular maintenance. They’re NOT just like a piece of furniture! That’s why we’ve highlighted a few simple things you can do today to make sure your smoke detector gets some efficient, effective, and regularly scheduled attention.

Do I really need to check my smoke detector?

Yes! Not maybe. Not if you feel like it. But yes, yes, yes — and on a regular schedule. Electronic devices aren’t foolproof. Seriously, did that battery-powered karaoke machine ever perform as advertised? Batteries die or corrode, dust may interfere with sensors, and other device components can wear out over time. Regular testing will reveal if your detector could use a good cleaning or needs to be replaced completely.

How often should I check my smoke detector?

Smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month (yes, you read that right), and batteries should be replaced at least once or twice a year. You can change the batteries when you change your clocks for daylight savings — a foolproof way to stay on that twice-per-year schedule.

Signs your smoke detector should be checked more frequently (or replaced entirely...)

  • The detector gives false alarms
  • The alarm emits short beeps without anyone touching it
  • Kitchen smoke activates it often, which may wear it out faster

Check your detector’s user manual if anything else seems strange. Don’t worry, there’s usually an online version as well. Because really, who actually remembers where they put that manual?

My detectors are hardwired, do I still need to check them?

Again, yes! You had to expect that would be the answer, right? While the hardwired variety is powered by your home’s electrical system, they do have backup batteries that kick in if your home loses power. Yep, these devices still require monthly testing to ensure that the batteries and all the other parts are functioning properly.

How do I test a smoke detector?

Check manufacturer’s instructions for proper testing protocol, but in general, most battery-powered and hardwired smoke detectors can be tested in the following way:

  1. Alert family members that you will be testing the device. You don’t want to scare the pants off of anyone by setting off a high-pitched noise.
  2. Station someone at the furthest point from the detector. No, not your dog. A real person can do more than howl if they hear a loud noise. We’re just kidding, of course, but ensuring the alarm reaches every corner of your home is no joke. Install extra devices if necessary.
  3. Press and hold the test button on the smoke detector. Wait a few seconds and prepare yourself for a sound so loud you feel it. If the alarm is weak or not audible, replace the batteries and check it again. If it’s been more than six months since you replaced the batteries (whether your detector is battery-powered or hardwired), change them now regardless of the test result. Test the new batteries one final time to make sure everything’s working properly. Simple stuff for such a long paragraph!

Also, take this time to inspect your smoke detector for built-up dust or debris that could be blocking its grates.

Safety first

Smoke detectors have a normal life span of about ten years. Even with regular maintenance, you should replace yours every decade. Think, when it’s time to give your hairstyle a serious reboot, it’s probably time to change your detector.

Our hope is that you’ll never need your smoke detector or fire alarm, but these easy-to-follow smoke detector safety tips will make sure you’re prepared.