Smoke detectors have been quietly hanging on our ceiling since the mid-1900s when they were popularized for domestic use. Today, more than 94% of American homes have at least one smoke detector. These seemingly simple devices have saved countless lives by providing early fire detection. What’s surprising is how little most of us know about smoke detectors. To help you out, here are five of the most frequently asked questions about smoke detectors:
1. How do smoke detectors work?
There are two types of smoke detectors. The photoelectric smoke detector sends a beam of light down a T-shaped chamber. When a bit of smoke enters the chamber, some of the light is scattered and hits the photocell; this sets off the alarm. Ionization smoke detectors have two closely spaced electrodes made of a radiating element in a filtered chamber. The gap between the electrodes contains ionized air, which completes the circuit. This circuit becomes broken when smoke particles enter the chamber and carry away the ions, triggering the alarm.
2. Does cigarette smoke trigger smoke detectors?
Yes. Don’t smoke near smoke detectors. Despite being very thin, cigarettes smoke easily sets off smoke detectors- this goes to show just how sensitive they are.
3. What about vape and steam? Do these trigger smoke detectors?
If you are a fan of vaping, you’ve probably pondered over this. Vape and steam from the kitchen or the shower have been known to trigger smoke detectors- but only if they happen to be very close to the source. Vaping at least ten feet from most detectors will not trigger them. Triggers from vaping and steam are rare since most smoke detectors are installed well out of detection range.
4. How do I tell if my smoke detector works?
Don’t start a fire to find out whether your smoke detector works. Smoke detectors have a test button. Press down the button for a few seconds, and a loud alarm should go off- this means it works. If the sound is faint, distorted, dies away quickly or isn’t audible at all, the smoke detector might be broke or in need of new batteries.
5. How often should I replace the batteries in my smoke detector?
Most smoke detectors run on 9-Volt alkaline batteries. The recommended battery life by most manufacturers is one year, so replace them annually. However, some modern smoke detectors may have what’s called an advanced Lithium-Ion battery which can last through the detector’s lifetime – look up manual before replacing the batteries. The smoke detector itself should be replaced every ten years; they collect dust and age over time, reducing effectiveness.
Smoke detectors are invaluable devices in protecting your home, office or warehouse against fire. In a way, smoke detectors are the first responders in the event of a fire. They are not only highly recommended, but most states’ building codes require they be installed in a given standard. Initial installation is not enough. Smoke detectors need to be maintained and upgraded with time.
Replace those old detectors from the 90s with modern, reliable ones. Visit us at Electric Blue, a certified residential electrical contractor for all smoke detector installation, replacement, and maintenance; safeguard your loved ones and valued possession from the risk of fire using these simple gadgets.