Friday, 16 September 2011

Waitati Volunteer Fire Brigade: Smoke Alarm Maintenance

by Deanne Burrell

Dust and spider webs can affect smoke alarms. Clean your alarm with a
vacuum cleaner once a month, and while doing so test the alarm by
pushing the test button. Batteries must be changed once a year; time
this to recur on a regular date (such as on New Year's day, daylight
saving or a family member's birthday). All smoke alarms will sound a
short 'beep' every so often indicating that the battery is going flat.

Smoke alarms have a life expectancy of 10 years. A smoke alarm
constantly monitors the air 24 hours a day. At the end of 10 years, it
has gone through over 3.5 million monitoring cycles. After this much
use, components may become less reliable. This means that as the
detector gets older, the potential of failing to detect a fire
increases. Smoke alarms that are wired into an electrical system (or
burglar alarm) also need to be replaced every 10 years.

If an alarm regularly responds to smoke from cooking, there are
several options to handle this problem. One way is to replace the
alarm with one that has a button to silence it for a few minutes. Or
you could move the alarm further away, giving the smoke more time to
dissipate.

If the detector is of the ionization type, another option is to
replace it with a photoelectric alarm; this type of detector is less
sensitive to the smaller particles so is less affected by cooking
smoke. A further option is to use a heat detector rather than a smoke
alarm.

To stop an alarm sounding, you need to clear the air in the sensor
chamber. Fanning the alarm with a paper or tea towel is the best
method and the alarm will stop automatically. Do not disable the
alarm by removing the battery.

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