The National Fire Prevention Association requires every occupied property, from residential to commercial structures, to have multiple smoke alarms installed.
Since you are least aware of what’s happening in your home while asleep, it is essential to install a smoke alarm on every bedroom floor, preferably outside the bedroom area.
Also, place them in attics, basements, garages, and along long-winding or enclosed stairways. However, refrain from situating them near HVAC vents, windows, or doors since the drafts blow toxic air away, causing false negative readings.
While not legally required, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing carbon monoxide detectors on each usable floor, especially near fuel-burning devices like garage vehicles, basement gas furnaces and water heaters, and kitchen stoves and ovens.
Since CO is undetectable in smell and appearance, it is vital to have an attached device that can detect leaks before your body does, as CO exposure can cause symptoms like dizziness, headaches, nausea, weakness, chest pains, confusion, and difficulty breathing.
Older homes usually have battery-operated smoke detector installations that only sound when smoke rises directly through their vents. Since they’re stand-alone and not connected to a system, other smoke alarms throughout your home won’t go off when one does.
However, these smoke alarms are easier to install and maintain since a professional simply screws in a mounting base to your upper walls or ceilings and twists the device into place. Once a month, conduct DIY maintenance by pushing the button on the device. If it doesn’t sound or it has been at least six months since the last battery change, swap them out and vacuum the shell.
If you prefer to install hardwired smoke alarms, an expert electrician must cut your wall or ceiling drywall. They will then use wire connectors to run a cable from the boxes to a power source, such as the circuit breaker panel or wall outlet, and wire strippers to cut the excess cable before inserting it into the electrical boxes. However, upgrading your older home for this system requires a hefty remodeling job.
These wired smoke detectors pull current from your utility grid to run but have backup battery systems in case of outages or electrical malfunctions. Unlike battery-powered units, they all beep in unison when one detects smoke to alert you no matter where you are in your home.
Usually, you can tell when your smoke detector’s batteries are dying since they’ll chirp until you remedy the situation. However, you’ll also notice if your system doesn’t respond to the button test during your fire alarm inspection or if rising smoke doesn’t trigger it. Change the batteries in your battery-operated unit or check or reset your circuit breakers on your wired devices.
To change the batteries, remove the smoke detector cover by twisting it counterclockwise and locating and removing the batteries. After placing new batteries into the slots, twist the cover back on and test the device. If this doesn’t work, call a professional immediately to inspect your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Your electrician may double-check it’s not a battery issue by using a multimeter to read the voltage. If they find the unit itself isn’t responding, they’ll suggest a new smoke detector installation to continue to protect your home. They’ll relay your options, and install your new individual device or whole-home system in one day.