Everything You Need To Know About Smoke Detectors

Without a shred of a doubt, having smoke detectors inside a safe home or at the workplace could mean the difference between life and death in case of a fire. Smoke detectors rely on sensitive sensors that can easily detect smoke and trigger an audio siren. The fire alarm will, in turn, let you of the impending danger of a fire. This will give you precious seconds or minutes to act by either leaving the premises or using fire extinguishers to put out a small fire on your own, if you can safely do that.

Let's learn what are the exact mechanisms of these smoke detectors and fire alarms, and which codes and regulations they must comply with in the lines below.

What Are Smoke Detectors Made Of?

smoke detectors

A smoke detector is enclosed in a white, round plastic shell measuring at least 6 inches in diameter while being about one inch thick. You can shop around and search for smoke detectors from multiple brands and notice some slight differences in shape and size. Ultimately, independent of their design, all smoke detectors serve the same important purpose: to detect traces of smoke with the help of photoelectricity or ionization. A smoke detector can use either of these technologies or both of them, simultaneously.

Smoke detectors installed in larger commercial buildings are usually connected to the main fire alarm system that belongs to the building.  A household smoke detector can look like a single unit that uses batteries to work. There are also models that are powered by multiple detectors that also need backup batteries. Whenever one of the units can detect smoke, all sirens will sound. Even more, the alarms will be triggered whether the household power has been cut or not.

Advantages Of Installing Smoke Detectors

They lower the risk of death by fire or smoke intoxication

Without a doubt, the number one reason why these smoke sensors and fire alarm systems should be installed in every household, commercial building, or educational facility is related to the risk of dying in a fire or because of smoke asphyxiation. In short, having these sensors and alarms installed will automatically cut the risk in half. The National Fire Protection Association speaks of more than 0.5 deaths/100 fires in households where a smoke detector was in place, as opposed to close to 1.2 deaths/100 fires in households with no functioning smoke alarm detectors.

Schools, hospitals, clubs, malls, large office spaces, and other public buildings must all comply with a series of fire prevention laws issued at a local and national level, and smoke detectors are part of the list of requirements. NFPA 72 or the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, have issued minimum requirements in the form of smoke alarms that should be installed inside every bedroom or area used for sleeping inside a household, as well as outside each of these spaces and on every level. Homes that have been built following the standards issues prior to the NFPA 72 usually fail to comply with these minimum requests. However, the authorities, together with homeowners need to make proactive changes as a means of admitting the faults in their fire prevention measurements.

Smoke detectors are quick to inform you of a fire

Whether installed at home, inside a public building, or private spaces open to the public, fire alarm systems, and some detectors will work by enabling loud sirens as a way of alerting all occupants of an imminent fire inside the building, enabling escape through clear and accessible routes, whether doors, windows or fire escape stairways. The intensity of these sirens is normally set at around 85 dBA at ten feet, or at 3200 Hz so the alarm can also cater to the need of people with impaired hearing.  Some smoke detectors are sold with strobe lights, spoken voice sirens, or special tactile warnings when they come in the form of pillows or beds that will start to shake when smoke is identified.

Some models feature temporary silence buttons

This means that you will be able to temporarily shut them off and prevent them from sounding the alarm at the simple push of a button, while not having to remove any batteries. Why is this important? For the sole reason that you get rid of annoying false alarms being triggering around the kitchen and other similar areas around the house where these detectors might mistakingly go off.

How To Install A Smoke Alarm System

  • Select a reliable, branded smoke alarm system that has been vetted and accredited by a label recognized testing lab.

  • Have a smoke alarm detector installed in every sleeping area around the house, as well as every office or room inside a commercial space, or an education facility, as well as on every level, attics, and basements included. Basement smoke alarms should be installed on ceilings, at the bottom of stairs leading to a superior level.

  • Avoid installing smoke alarms nearby doors and windows, as well as drafty areas such as ducts.

  • As much as you might dislike the color of your smoke alarms, never try to pant them or place any stickers on top of them or you could prevent the sensors to stop working the right way and render them useless.

  • Install your smoke detectors at least ten feet away from any cooking stoves and other similar appliances so you can keep the number of false alarms to a minimum when cooking.

  • Since smoke is known to rise, make sure to install your smoke alarms up high on ceilings and walls, but not more than 12 inches away from ceilings.

Smoke Alarm Upkeep and Testing

Make sure to periodically use the maintenance instructions as provided by the manufacturer and test the smoke detectors at least once every 30 days with the help of the dedicated test button. The alarms must be accurately cleaned so they can preserve their efficiency. Smoke detectors that work on non-replaceable batteries with a 10-year lifespan will work for as much as a decade. However, when the alarm starts chirping, you will need to have the entire smoke alarm system replaced as soon as possible.  A smoke alarm system that uses a different battery will need battery replacement at least once a year or whenever the alarm starts to chirp and warn you of the fact that the battery is running low. Always closely follow the detailed instructions on how to change the batteries provided by the manufacturer and use the batteries written on the back of the detector or in the manual.  For more home security solutions, get in touch with our team of experts today.

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