Hiller Know-How: How Often Should I Test My Smoke Detectors?

According to FEMA, every year, around 3,400 Americans die in fires, and another 17,500 are injured (with the overwhelming majority of these fires being in homes). With working and fully operating smoke detectors, you can help protect you and your family from a fire, every hour of every day.

Maintaining your smoke detectors is easy, but it does take some scheduling and follow-through.

There are two main types of smoke detectors. One type is battery-powered. The other kind is hardwired into your home’s electrical circuits, and has a back-up battery in case of a power outage. Both require consistent battery testing.

We recommend testing all smoke detectors in your home once a month. Be sure to alert family members in the home, especially young children, that you will be testing the alarm. The loud and high-pitched noise can frighten kids, or make others think there is an actual fire.

After you’ve made sure people know you’re just testing the alarm, press and hold the test button on the smoke detector. The alarm should go off within a few seconds, and should end when you release the button. If the noise is weak or the alarm doesn’t sound at all, it is time to replace the battery. Once you replace the battery, be sure to test it again to ensure the detector itself isn’t faulty.

At Hiller Electric, we recommend using lithium batteries, which can last up to 10 years. Whether your smoke detector relies solely on battery power or only needs one as a backup, lithium batteries are a safe bet.

Set a date to test smoke detectors, and write it in your calendar. Easy-to-remember dates like the first Saturday of every month can help you remember to test smoke detectors. Another commonly used time to test detectors is during daylight savings time adjustments: when you “fall back” or “spring forward” an hour (though we recommend checking more frequently).

Some people may need special smoke detectors that alert individuals with lights or movement in addition to sound. To learn more about hard-wiring or installing these kinds of detectors, contact the friendly electricians at Hiller Electric today. We would love to answer your questions about smoke detectors and keeping your family safe.

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