Most of us go to bed assured that our house is safe from the dangers of fire as a smoke detector will inform us of any danger. We even leave our houses unattended on an assurance that a loud alarm with inform our neighbours or a monitoring system will alert the right authorities to take action in the right time. But are you sure that your detectors are working correctly?
In most houses with smoke and fire detectors, house inspectors discovered that the fire was left unnoticed as the detector did not function on time. It was either out of batteries or damaged due to dust or heat or moisture. These are sensitive electronic devices and they need to be maintained properly like any other device.
In some case where batteries were replaced at the right time and proper cleaning and maintenance was maintained, the inspectors discovered that the batteries were not fitted properly in the device. That is, a new battery was inserted but it did not fit properly as the batteries need to be squeezed into the detectors as against a simple push and slide action.
Testing a Smoke Detector
You should ideally test your detector every month or at least few times in a year. Whenever you plan a test, make sure that you have informed all members of the household about it and keep your monitoring agency informed too in case you have a monitored system. Once in a while, you can use it as an opportunity to have a fire drill by not informing the family members but do not do it too often or else they might mistake an actual alarm for a drill.
The easiest way to test a detector is to press the test button on the device and hold it for some time. If the alarm gets triggered and keeps on till the button is presses, the device is functioning properly. You can also light a small candle at the bottom of the detector, close to it, to check if the device triggers an alarm.
The other way is to buy a small can of smoke detector test aerosol that can be sprayed on the detector to trigger an alarm. Make sure that you give at least ten seconds for to get a response. When an alarm is triggered and you are assured of the working of a detector, you can use a small vacuum to suck the material out of detector which will stop the alarm as well.
In case of interconnected systems, you should take help of others to check all the detectors in the network and ensure that all of them sound an alarm even if one of them gets tripped. If you do not have interconnected systems, you should check the sound level of you alarm frequently by closing all interconnections between rooms and checking whether the alarm is audible from every corner of the house or not.
In this way, you can make sure that your detectors are working appropriately and will give you an alert at the right time.