Smoke Detector Installation and Maintenance

Smoke detectors are essential in every household, and an expert is usually required for their installation. The selection, placement and maintenance of smoke detectors are the three most important factors regarding their installation.

There are two main, distinct types of smoke detectors: Ionization and Photoelectric. Ionization smoke detectors are more effective with flaming fires, commonly kitchen fires where the fuel is grease or paper. A photoelectric device will be more responsive to fires which smolder before they ignite fully and are more easily triggered by burning clothing or upholstery, or fires caused by electric blankets. It is recommended that there is a smoke detector installed in every room of the house, so it is a good idea to first determine how many of each type you need by tallying the number of rooms requiring ionization and photoelectric detectors respectively.

Selecting the place in the room that the detector is to be situated will determine how long it takes for the device to detect smoke if there is a fire in the room. Smoke will rise in a room and travel with the air flow out of the room. Therefore, smoke detectors should be placed on the ceiling near a doorway or stairway, but not within one foot of a wall. This is very important for the smoke detectors to be effective.

The maintenance of smoke detectors is relatively simple. The manufacturer will specify the regularity with which the battery needs to be changed. This is usually once a year with AA, AAA and 9V batteries, but there are some smoke detectors on the market which use lithium batteries which last the 10-year lifetime of the smoke detector itself. Smoke detectors should be tested regularly, regardless of the battery type or life. This should be done once a month and there is usually an easy to use test button on the detector which can be pressed, and the alarm should sound.

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