Handy Hints Blog

Essential smoke alarm maintenance tips from the experts

  • 10 Feb 2017

This simple maintenance routine will keep your smoke alarms in top condition ensuring they will provide the earliest fire warning possible, every day of the year. Most of these tasks only take a few minutes to complete but are essential to keeping your home and family safe from the devastating effects of fire.

Smoke Alarm Maintenance Tips

Monthly tasks

Clean

Run the vacuum or broom over the smoke alarms once a month to remove dust, insect debris or cobwebs. Any obstructions, even very small, can reduce the effectiveness of the alarm.

Test

Test the alarm each month. Add a reminder to the calendar or schedule it for the first day of the month, but ensure it becomes part of your regular routine. Routine monthly testing will help catch issues early.

Testing is easy, simply press the test button to check the alarm is functioning. If the alarm is too high to reach safely use a broom handle to push the test button. Some alarms are designed with two buttons, a hush or silent button and a test button, others have one button which does both jobs.

Make sure everyone in the house knows what the alarms sounds like and what to do when it goes off, including children, the elderly, hearing impaired, and any visitors. The QFES recommend every home has a practised escape plan in place in case of a fire.

Don't have an emergency escape plan or would like to test your plan? Take a look at the QFES 15 Second Fire Escapes website for ideas and possible scenarios to consider.

Smoke alarm

Yearly tasks

Battery powered alarms

Our electricians recommended that 9-volt battery powered smoke alarms are fitted with a new battery at least once a year. Again, mark it in the calendar or set a reminder on your smartphone. Changing the battery on a significant day can help you remember to do it. New years day, April fools day or a family birthday are all good ideas.

Hard wired smoke alarms

A yearly service of individual hardwired or interconnected hardwired smoke alarms by a licenced electrician is recommended to ensure the system is powered and without faults. Standard 9-volt non-rechargeable backup batteries should be replaced annually as well.

Ongoing maintenance

If at any stage the smoke alarm emits a slow periodic beep this is an indication of low battery or a fault in the alarm. Replace the battery promptly, if the beeping continues the alarm may need to be replaced.

Most smoke alarms have a useful life of around 10 years and should be replaced before this period.

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