Checking Your Smoke Alarm: A Quick Guide

October 25, 2023

Today, we’re going to have a squiz at something that might not be at the top of your to-do list, but trust us, it’s worth a bit of your attention. We’re talking about checking your smoke alarm. You might be thinking, “When’s the last time I checked that thing?”

No worries! We’re here to walk you through this quick Smoke Alarm Guide on checking your smoke alarm.

Why should I bother checking my smoke alarm?

First off, why does checking your smoke alarm seem like a big deal to us? Well, the answer is simple – your smoke alarm can save lives.

By now, you’re probably wondering how this little device could save lives. Here’s the thing – according to the New South Wales (NSW) Fire and Rescue, not having a smoke alarm in a house can increase the risk of its occupants facing fire-related hazards by a whopping 60%!

With these in mind, we can say it’s pretty serious out there. But, no biggie! With regular checks and a bit of effort, we should be right as rain.

How often should I check my smoke alarm?

We get it, all of us have a lot on our plates, and checking your smoke alarm is probably the last thing on your list. But don’t fret. Checking your smoke alarm only takes a couple of minutes, really. It’s as quick as pushing a button!

What type of smoke alarm do I have?

Before checking and cleaning your smoke alarms, it’s important to know first what type of smoke alarm you have. Well, there are two main types, ionisation and photoelectric alarms, with photoelectric being the preferred choice.

Ionisation Smoke Alarm

The ionisation alarm is basically a footy match happening inside a tiny chamber with particles, called ions, being tossed around. When smoke, the unannounced and unpleasant game-crasher, pops in, it messes with the ion party, causing the alarm to go off like a siren song.

Photoelectric Smoke Alarm

On the flip side, photoelectric alarms act more like a watchful lifeguard. There’s a light source in them and a sensor keeping its eye – or rather, its light – fixated on a space. When smoke starts its mischief, it scatters the light around, and once this wayward light hits the sensor, the alarm wakes up the neighbourhood.

By now, you’re probably wondering, “How am I supposed to know what type I have?” We got you! All you need to do is check the label. Disclaimer though, if your smoke alarm is already installed, you’ll probably need a ladder for this one.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty: Checking your smoke alarm.

Now that you have the basics right, it’s time to do the dirty work – actually checking your smoke alarm. Follow these simple steps and you’re good to go:

Step 1: The sound test

Grab yourself a ladder or a trusty tall friend and get up close and personal with your smoke alarm. Locate the test button – it’s usually somewhere around the middle of the alarm. Give it a gentle press and hold until you hear a loud, ear-splitting beep.

If all is good, the beep should come quite quickly. If nothing happens, or it sounds a bit dodgy, you may have a faulty alarm and should look into replacing it.

Step 2: Clean them

Especially because smoke alarms are up in your ceiling, they can easily get dusty and dirty over time. So while you’re still up there, you might as well give them a quick wipe using a damp cloth. If it’s your first time cleaning your smoke alarms, a vacuum cleaner might be a better tool.

Step 3: Change the batteries

If your smoke alarm uses batteries, it’s essential to keep them fresh. Make sure to change them at least once a year.

Can’t remember when was the last time you changed their batteries? It’s probably a sign to change them now.

Step 4: Check the expiration date

Yep, believe it or not, smoke alarms have expiration dates. They usually last around 10 years, so if you find your alarm is nearing its retirement age or has already passed it, it’s time to update to a new one.

Asking for Professional Help

If your smoke alarm is acting strangely, don’t hesitate to call in the pros like Mr Emergency for help. They’ve got the know-how, the gear, and the experience to tackle any smoke alarm issue you throw at them.

Final Thoughts

Fire safety is a serious business. With that, let’s make sure our homes, and your beloved families within them, are as safe as they can be. It’s a small effort that can make a whole lot of difference.

As we part ways, we hope this talk has left you feeling more aware and on top of things, especially when it comes to your home’s safety. By taking a couple of minutes off your month, you can have peace of mind knowing that your smoke alarms are in pristine condition and can be relied on.

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Our AI match engine will match you with over 150,000+ properties and you can swipe away or shortlist easily. Making your home buying journey faster and easier.