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how to test a smoke alarms


Each year fires cause millions of dollars in damage, destroyed homes and causing death. Smoke alarms are one of the most important items in your home when it comes to safety. A working smoke alarm will alert you if a fire starts in your home, giving you more time to evacuate, they need to be periodically tested to help ensure they are working.

What you need to know

  • Smoke alarms should to be tested monthly to make sure they are in working order.
  • Smoke alarms should be cleaned regularly to remove dust. ( Using a vacuum is best )
  • Smoke alarms, of any type need to be completely replaced every 10 years.
  • Smoke alarms are required to be located near all sleeping areas and exit routes between sleeping areas and exits to outside.
  • Metro Electrical 24 hour Electricians recommends a mains powered photoelectric smoke alarm.
how to test a smoke alarms

Performing a smoke alarm safety test

Step 1

Warn family members let everyone in the home know that you will be testing the smoke alarm so that they don’t think there is a fire when the detector goes off.

Step 2

Look for a green light to make sure it has mains power, this is for mains powered smoke alarms only

Step 3

Push the test button, you can stand on a chair or ladder to reach the alarm with your hand or you can use a broom handle to push the test button. The alarm should sound, if it doesn’t you know that your detector is not working. You may need to replace the batteries for battery operated smoke alarms, or call an electrician to replace the smoke alarm and check the wiring.

Step 4

Test the smoke alarm using smoke. Light two matches and hold them a meter under the smoke alarm. The smoke alarm should detect the smoke from the matches and cause the alarm to activate if the detector didn’t activate the smoke alarm needs to be replaced

Step 5

Check the date all smoke alarms will have a manufacture date or a replace by date, be sure to replace the smoke alarm every 10 years. If you can’t find the date on the unit or it doesn’t have one it will be probably more than 10 years old then replace it.

Step 6

Clean the detector each month, use a vacuum cleaner or a soft cloth to clean any dust have accumulated. Don’t use chemical cleaners on the unit as they can contaminate the sensors.

Step 7

Repeat these tests once each month is recommend more frequently the better but try at least once a month. Remember to check each smoke detector. Checking your alarm often means you are more likely to have a functioning detector when you need it in a fire.

Step 8

Replace battery once a year remember mains powered smoke alarms also have a battery back up and need the battery replaced not just If you have a battery powered detectors