In Canada, the month of October is Fire Prevention Month. The purpose of this month is to spread awareness and to help people ensure that they have a plan and are prepared in the event of a fire. Today I’ll go over some basic actions and maintenance you can do to ensure that your home’s smoke detectors will be ready for the unexpected. Do you know if your home has smoke or combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms? Do you know if they are hard wired or battery operated? Are they in working condition? As a home owner, if you don’t know the answers to these questions, you should familiarize yourself with your home’s first line of defense against fires and carbon dioxide.
Hard wired smoke/carbon monoxide detectors (complete with battery backup) are now code on all new homes, not only 1 smoke/carbon monoxide detector per floor (sometimes more depending on the size of the home), but you now also require a hard wired smoke detector in every bedroom as well. Being that they are hardwired, if one of the alarms is set off, they will all go off.
To ensure your smoke/carbon monoxide detectors are working correctly it is recommended that you test these alarms on a monthly basis. Testing these is very easy. They are equipped with a test button. Holding the test button will set the alarm off and if your home’s alarms are hard wired properly, all the alarms in your home should be briefly set off.
Some of the newer, Smart smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, such as the Google Nest Protect, have a sound check option you can set up, which will allow them to test themselves monthly at a designated day and time. If you set it to a time when no one is home it will also send you a notification through the Nest App to let you know the test has been performed.
A couple other thing that should be checked on your alarms, is the replace by date and the batteries. There will usually be a sticker on the side of the alarms with a date that the manufacturer recommends the alarm be replaced. These alarms are good for 10 years from their manufacture date, and if out dated should be replaced to ensure they will work properly when needed. When the batteries need to be replaced, you will know by the annoying beeping sound they will make. If one is beeping, it is usually best to just replace the batteries in them all, as they were probably all installed at the same time so all the batteries will probably start failing at the same time.
Testing your equipment and knowing how it all works is an essential step towards fire prevention and keeping your home, belongings, and family safe. If you are unsure when performing any of these actions, give a local electrical contractor a call to give you a hand and ensure the system is all working correctly.