Testing Smoke And Carbon Monoxide Alarms

test smoke detectorSafety first, right? Even if you don’t use your furnace and/or fireplace much in the warm Los Angeles area, being sure you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are still critical for home safety. By testing your smoke and CO alarms correctly and on the right schedule, you’ll know they’ll be ready if you should ever need them.

How to Test

Every alarm has a small test button on the front or side. When you press this button, the alarm should sound. Hold your ears! If it does, you can be reasonably sure the alarm is functional and has enough power. To stop the alarm, you might need to press the test button again or just wait a few seconds. If the alarm doesn’t sound and it’s the silence that’s deafening, change the batteries, check the electrical connection if it’s a hardwired model, or replace the whole unit.

Note: Because test buttons aren’t always accurate, if you’re looking for more reliable results, test your alarm by spraying it with a UL-rated canned smoke product or by holding a smoke pen within two feet of it. Or, use several lit matches or a smoking, blown-out candle, but take care not to melt the alarm’s plastic cover. That would sort of defeat the whole purpose. Just sayin’.

When to Test

Test all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors once a month. Sounds inconvenient, but what could be more important than your family’s safety? Mark the test day on your calendar and plan to spend around 30 minutes to an hour to get the job done. This is also a good time to dust the units with a cloth, feather duster, or a vacuum hose with a brush attachment.

Keep in mind, though, that these alarms don’t last forever. The average smoke detector lasts 10 years while most carbon monoxide alarms last just five to seven years. The instructions that came with your alarm should tell you how long it will last. Once the alarm’s time is up, replace it whether or not it seems to be working. Why? While it might work when you push the test button, its sensitivity could be too low to detect a real fire or CO leak.

Reliance wants you to be safe above all. Contact us if you have any questions about alarms and detectors. And if you want to get on a regular inspection check for plumbing and HVAC systems, don’t hesitate to look into our Happy Home Club.