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Got Smoke Detectors? (You should!)

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Got Smoke Detectors? (You should–here’s why!)smoke detectors information

Do I really need smoke detectors?

All new homes and many older homes have smoke detectors, and when a home that does not have smoke detectors sells, home inspectors often recommend adding them. Smoke detectors do just that—detect smoke, and potentially save lives in the event of a fire. So, yes, Virginia, you DO need smoke detectors!

What if I don’t have them?

You should. It’s that simple.

The best kind of smoke detectors are those that are hard-wired with battery backup. These are interconnected so that if one is activated, they all sound the alarm simultaneously, increasing the likelihood that you and your family will respond quickly and be saved in the event of a fire. If you don’t have these detectors at all, this will probably require wiring to be installed, something that will most likely require a professional. Unless you are experienced and qualified, it is not a recommended DIY project.

If you can’t afford that, you can buy battery smoke detectors and put them up high on the wall or on the ceiling. The disadvantage is that they are not interconnected and do not sound together. Additionally, battery-only detectors may lack the ability to chirp and let you know the battery has died, resulting in a false sense of safety.

Where do I need smoke detectors?

Basic minimum requirements are:

  • one per bedroom
  • one outside the bedroom(s)
  • if bedrooms are groups in separate locations, one outside each set of bedrooms
  • one per level on multi-level houses, including basement (but excluding the attic)

Note that carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are also recommended if gas appliances are used, or simply for added safety. Combination smoke/CO detectors are available.

Smoke detectors are NOT recommended in kitchens, as they may cause nuisance alarms from smoke generated in cooking. If you want protection there, use a heat detector.

My smoke detectors keep chirping. Now what?

Smoke detectors operate with either battery power or, if hard-wired, 120 volts with battery backup. They are designed to let you know the battery is failing so you can keep yourself safe from fire and smoke inhalation. They require a 9-volt battery.

First, try changing the batteries in ALL smoke detectors at the same time—if one battery is dead or dying, odds are the others are too. Be sure to get a good grade of battery. Check the date code. Alkaline batteries are recommended for longer life. And you might make a point of changing them annually. (Some heating and air conditioning service companies offer this free as a part of a regularly scheduled maintenance package.)

If you change the battery and it still keeps chirping, you probably have a faulty smoke detector, or have different brands that are not compatible. For best results and to assure compatibility, you’re probably better off replacing ALL detectors at the same time.

Changing your detectors is something you can do yourself if you feel competent—BUT be sure to turn the power off. The black and white wires are power wires; the odd-colored wire (usually red, orange, or yellow) is a wire for interconnecting the smoke detectors together.

Don’t play around with your safety and risk damage to your valuable property and possibly severe injury or loss of life. If in doubt, contact a qualified electrician.

Think safety. Be Safe. Stay Alive.

As we have said before, keep safety foremost in your mindset. That way, you’ll make choices that will could save lives and prevent regret.

An ounce of proactive thinking can save a ton of trouble down the road!

—Ken Stewart, Easley Electric Inc.
We’ll Never Leave YOU In The Dark!

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