When was the last time the smoke alarms in your home were replaced? According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) statistics, three out of every five home fire deaths from 2009 to 2013 were in homes with either no smoke alarm or a non-operating smoke alarm. Protect your loved ones, tenants, or employees by purchasing smoke detectors today. Smoke alarms are required by law in most states and are a must if you own rental properties or run an apartment complex. 1000Bulbs.com carries the best smoke detectors from top brands including First Alert and Kidde smoke alarms.
Types of Smoke Detectors
When a fire occurs, every second is crucial. The shrill alarm of smoke alarms will wake you up from a sound sleep and can be easily heard through several rooms. Smoke alarms can detect a fire even if you cannot smell the smoke right away or see visible flames. There are several different types of smoke alarms each using a different sensing method to detect smoke or fire. Ionized smoke detectors operate by using electrically charged particles to detect smoke. These detectors are best at detecting flaming fires that spread quickly, easily engulfing a room or house in minutes. Flaming fires can be started by a knocked over candle or a grease fire.
Photoelectric smoke detectors use light beams to detect the presence of smoke, making them faster at detecting smoldering fires that can fill a room with smoke quickly. These fires may have small flames that are not easy to see, such as your Thanksgiving turkey burning in the oven. If you are looking for the benefits of both of these smoke alarms, then consider dual ionic and photoelectric smoke detectors which detect both smoldering and flaming fires.
Microprocessor temperatures sensors, or heat alarms, are for areas where a smoke detector might not be suitable such as crawl spaces and laundry rooms. These detectors detect changes in temperatures that can indicate the possibility of a fire, working as an early detection system when used in conjunction with smoke alarms. Heat alarms sound if the temperature reaches 135 degrees Fahrenheit, but can also sound sooner if a rapid temperature increase is detected.
Battery operated detectors are easy to install, usually only needing a few screws to mount to walls or ceilings. These alarms are only dependable while the battery lasts and need to be tested on a regular basis. Hard-wired detectors wire directly into your electricity and have a battery backup and are usually interconnected with other smoke alarms in the house. This way all smoke detectors in your home will go off at the same time, providing additional warning time. Hard wire detectors are always on, and when the power goes out the battery backup will kick in.
Smoke Detector Placement
Most states require smoke alarms be placed on each floor of homes and buildings. In addition, smoke detectors are required in the following areas to ensure everyone can hear the alarm no matter their location:
- Bedrooms and outside of other sleeping areas
- Living Rooms
The ideal place for installing smoke alarms is on your ceilings where smoke and other gases will rise. Wall mounted smoke alarms should be between 4 to 12 inches below the ceiling. Avoid placing your smoke detectors in areas where temperatures regularly fluctuate. Smoke detectors should not be placed near windows, doors, or other locations where drafts may draw smoke away from the sensor.
Smoke Alarms for Commercial Buildings
The NFPA has found that the majority of fires in offices occur in areas without smoke alarms. Smoke alarms should be placed in every room and hallway of commercial buildings. Smoke alarms aren't just for break rooms with toaster ovens. Smoke detectors should be used in cubical areas to alert employees to electrical fires as well. Maintenance logs should also be kept to show when maintenance is preformed and batteries are replaced.
Tips for Smoke Alarms
Before purchasing your smoke alarm, always make sure to check your local fire codes. Many states require that newer buildings have hard wired smoke alarms, while older buildings can have battery operated detectors. States may require that you use 10 year sealed smoke alarms. These tamper resistant sensors make it impossible to remove the batteries in the unit while trying to prevent false alarms or when the low battery chirp sounds. This makes 10-year alarms the best smoke detector for apartment buildings and rental homes. Practically maintenance free, the entire unit is replaced every ten years. It also has a button for required periodic testing.
You should also properly maintain your smoke detector to reduce the risk of false alarms, which can cause residents or employees to ignore alarms when they sound. Alarms that sound repeatedly when there is not fire are referred to as "nuisance alarms." The NFPA says that nearly half of the reported home fires form 2009 to 2015 in which a smoke alarm didn't sound were due to missing or disconnected batteries. The leading reason for disconnecting the batteries was nuisance alarms. Proper maintenance also ensures that your batteries are fresh. Batteries should be tested often. If your smoke detector is solely operated on batteries, then you should replace them at least twice a year. After ten years, it's not enough to just change the batteries. All smoke alarms need to be replaced every ten years to ensure optimal performance. Over time, the sensor becomes less effective due to dust, debris, age, and other factors. Check the instruction manual for recommendations on testing frequency as different types of units need to be tested on different schedules.
Not sure which would be the best smoke detector for your home or building? Call 1-800-624-4488 today to speak with one of our helpful experts.