Smoke Alarms & Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarms are your best bet for protecting your family from a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. There are two types of smoke detectors available – ionization for detecting flames and photoelectric for smoky fires. Both types are important, so install one of each or use dual-sensor units. Alarms that combine smoke and CO detectors are also available; just be sure to install them on or near the ceiling. (Unlike CO, smoke rises, so smoke or combination alarms need to be placed on or near the ceiling.)
Test alarms every month, change the batteries at least once a year, and replace alarms that are more than 10 years old. Dust can affect alarm response time, so vacuum or blow out any dust with canned air.
Fire officials urge home and business owners to use the bi-annual time shift to check smoke detector batteries. They should be changed every six months, regardless of whether they have been used or not. James City County fire educator Margaret Tucker said that fire detectors are one of the topics she is often asked about. Some of what she tells them is surprising.
“People need to know that they have to replace the entire alarm after ten years, even electric ones,” Tucker said recently. “We had one person with an electric alarm that was 17 or 18 years old that actually started a fire in the home. It sounded the alarm all right, but it had started the fire.”
Most manufacturers don’t guarantee the alarm will function properly after a decade of use.
“Just because the alarm can make noise doesn’t mean that it still has the ability to detect smoke,” she said.
Paul says, “Maximize a service call by replacing all smoke and/or CO detectors in your home at one time. When possible, replace with the same brand as originally installed in your home.”
Remember — always be safety-conscious when working with electricity. Call Dynamo Electric of Williamsburg, VA, your friendly local electricians, if the repair or service is beyond your expertise.
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