Why the importance of smoke alarm installation?

Did you know you lose your sense of smell while you sleep, so the chances of you being awoken by a home fire are very slim.

In NSW 50% of home fires have no smoke alarms installed and this is why it’s critical for you to have your home smoke alarms maintained, tested and installed by a licensed electrician.

In 2006 under the NSW building code regulation, by law all new buildings must be fitted with smoke alarms. The regulation states that smoke alarms must be fitted in every storey of a dwelling that contains a bedroom or in a hallway connected with bedrooms. The building code also suggests not placing smoke alarms next or near to cooking appliances but in some cases this cannot be avoided, a solution here would be to use a photoelectric smoke alarm.

What type of smoke alarm do I need?

In most modern homes today you will see either the ionisation or photoelectric smoke alarm fitted but you may also come across the ionisation/photoelectric type alarm. The ionisation smoke alarm is great for detecting flaming fires and works on the principal of using a small amount of radioactive material to ionise the air in a chamber were current flows, once smoke enters the chamber the air will decrease resulting in a reduction of current flow which will sound the alarm. Smoke alarm installers are now moving away from the ionisation type alarm due to their operation of detecting only flaming fires and the length of time it takes for an alarm to sound in the event of a smouldering fire.

The photoelectric smoke alarm is by far becoming the more popular of the smoke alarm type and its effectiveness in sensing smouldering fires has put it top of the selling list. The smoke alarm is designed with a chamber and inside the chamber it has a light source, when smoke enters the chamber the light disperses sounding the alarm. Most homes contain furniture made from synthetic material and the photoelectric smoke alarm is ideal in a home containing this type of furniture as it will respond quicker to the smouldering fires caused by the material on the furniture.
Other advantages for this type of alarm:

  • no nuisance sounding while cooking
  • Does not contain any radioactive gases

At km.electric we use the Brooks photoelectric smoke alarm when doing smoke alarm installation. This smoke alarm also comes installed with a 10 year rechargeable lithium battery, so no need to be changing the battery annually. It can also last up to 3 months alone without mains power connected. This alarm is ideal for detecting smoldering fires.

So where do my smoke alarms need to be installed

Knowing that we need smoke alarms installed on every floor of a dwelling we always advise trying to install smoke alarms in all bedrooms plus the lounge or dining area of a home. So if we stick to the one smoke alarm per floor level, its recommended that the smoke alarm be installed outside of your bedrooms either in hallways or stairways. It is always best to interlink all smoke alarms, so once one smoke alarm triggers the rest should sound also. This is only the case if there is more than one smoke alarm and if your home has been built since 2015 it is by law to have them interconnected.

Where NOT to install smoke alarms

Having smoke alarms installed in the wrong places can produce nuisance alarm and possibly resulting in the smoke alarm becoming faulty. Never install a smoke alarm in or next to a bathroom or laundry, the hot steam from a bath or shower can trigger the alarm. Also the moisture from the laundry can sound the alarm. Smoke alarms should be mounted 3 feet away from ceiling fans as the fan can blow the smoke away from the alarm in the event of a fire.
Windows or sliding doors are another example of smoke been swept away from the alarm due to the draft from windows or doors. Installing smoke alarms next to, or near kitchen appliances is a no go – the kitchen is a common cause for smoke alarms to continually be nuisance tripping.

When should I change my smoke alarm

Its a known fact smoke alarms do NOT last forever! A smoke alarm’s components will lose their effectiveness over time due to the build up of dust, termites and electrical corroding. A manufacturer’s date should be located on the smoke alarm and it should also indicate the expiry date. We recommend changing your smoke alarm to the photoelectric type with preferably the 10 year lithium battery included. Your smoke alarm will need to be changed every 10 years. This should be stated on every manufacturer’s smoke alarm.

Always ensure you use a licensed electrician to install a hard wired smoke alarm.

How to maintain your smoke alarm

Maintaining a smoke alarm is so easy to do and maintaining it could save you and your families life. At km.electric we recommend following these simple steps:

Testing your smoke alarm – all it needs is a push of a button, then this procedure is over in a matter of seconds. Once the test push button on the smoke alarm is pushed, it should sound the alarm and when released it should stop. In the event of the smoke alarm not sounding on test, you have a problem! It’s likely your smoke alarm is faulty and should be immediately replaced by a licensed electrician.
Lose the dust by using a vacuum – over time dust particles tend to build up inside the smoke alarm, using a vacuum with a small brush head on the pole should remove most of the particles and clean the smoke alarm.

Termite spray – the electrical components of a smoke alarm can draw the attention of termites and these little buggers seem to damage the smoke alarm’s components. Before spraying your smoke alarm with termite spray, your smoke alarm will need to be completely covered before spraying takes place. This will ensure the spray does not enter the smoke alarm compartments and cause damage. Painting the smoke alarm or covering it, is a no go! – Covering or painting a smoke alarm will affect the alarm’s performance and probably result in a faulty smoke alarm over time.
Battery replacement – A smoke alarm’s battery should be replaced every 12 months unless it carries a lithium battery which will last up to 10 years. If a smoke alarm’s battery needs to be replaced, the smoke alarm will beep every 30 – 60 seconds. If the smoke alarm continues to beep after the battery has been replaced the smoke alarm is faulty and will need to be replaced by a licensed electrician.

Call Ken today at km.electric to enquire about your smoke alarm installation, testing or maintenance 0405 838 383

What happens when you call us

Emergency electrician calls are answered by our owner, Ken. He will talk you through what the best solution to your problem is and identify the best course of action to take once he arrives at your property.

If you don’t have electricity at all in your home you may be experiencing a power cut. Don’t waste your money by calling us, check to see if there is a power outage in your area. Your energy provider’s website will tell you if you have been affected or not.

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