Smoke Detectors...

pedalinbob

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Dec 7, 2002
Messages
2,281
Location
Michigan
I rarely have time these days to hang out online...I am so behind on the newer Cree stuff!
Been busy with life, career, home improvement, etc.

Anyway...

This is a public service announcement: change your smoke alarm batteries, and test the units!

They are only good for 10 years. If you aren't sure as to the age, recycle them (they likely have radioactive components), and get a new units.

There are two types of detector: ionizing and photo sensing.
Ionizers detect faster, flaming fires best.
Photosensors detect slower-spreading, smoldering, smoky fires.

Get them both.
The photoelectric models are more expensive, but very much worth it.
I have the Kiddie PI9000, which is a dual sensor model: it has both types of sensors.

Don't forget the carbon monoxide alarm.
I have the Kiddie KN-COSM-B combination CO Alarm, which senses both carbon monoxide and has an ionizing smoke alarm.

If you dislike the cost of these detectors, go check out U of M's Trauma Burn ICU...
See ya at Home Depot or Lowes...;o)

Bob
 

BillCurnow

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Aug 7, 2006
Messages
67
Location
Lubbock, TX
Kiddie also makes a series of detectors that are wirelessly network together: when one goes off they all go off. Neat!

Other considerations:
  • Test the smoke detector the way you would sleep. Lay in bed as if you were sleeping. If you sleep with the door closed, make certain its closed during the test. Then, have someone press the test button on the detector. If you can here it, great, otherwise, it's time to make changes.
  • Most smoke detector alarms function in a range that's often lost first as we age. Several manufacturers make models with alarms in a much deeper range. If you, or someone in you know, is suffering from hearing loss (due to age or otherwise) you may need to consider finding an alternate alarm.
  • Test, test, test your smoke detectors, even if they're hard-wired. I know someone who recently discovered that their main SD, a hard-wired model, wasn't connected by the builder 17 years ago when the house was built.
I'm a Red Cross Disaster Action Team member. 95% of the house fires we respond to take place in homes without functioning smoke detectors. Please, please, please put batteries in your detectors, test them, and do not use those batteries "in a pinch". Your life is not worth it.
 

goldenlight

Enlightened
Joined
Jul 10, 2005
Messages
464
Location
Right here....
I have 6 smoke detectors, and 3 CO detectors, in my 5 room house.

My homeowner's insurance costs $1300 a year, but would certainly NOT replace everything I have, much less my life!

I call it fairly cheap insurance. Oh yeah: my house was built in 1917, rewired (mostly....) in 1969. Still has the original furnace: coal converted to natural gas; insulated with asbestos. I need all the protection I can get!!!

I always take a permanent marker and write the date of installation on the front of all of my smoke dectectors. When Walgreens puts their 'heavy duty' batteries on sale for $0.39, I buy a bunch and replace batteries, usually twice a year.

I used to tend to forget with alkaline batteries, as they can last over 2 years.
 

TedTheLed

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 22, 2006
Messages
2,021
Location
Ventura, CA.
there was a (to code) smoke detector installed here but I removed it because because of many false alarms.. (maybe that's why the professional electrician installed in on a light switch) it is very dusty, and windy here, so is there such a thing as a smoke detector that is immune to dust?
I do have a monoxide detector plugged in next to the stove..it's pretty much a one room house, so I'm hoping I'm covered..
 

BillCurnow

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Aug 7, 2006
Messages
67
Location
Lubbock, TX
TedTheLed said:
there was a (to code) smoke detector installed here but I removed it because because of many false alarms.. (maybe that's why the professional electrician installed in on a light switch) it is very dusty, and windy here, so is there such a thing as a smoke detector that is immune to dust?
Not that I know of, but cleaning out the inside periodically with a little compressed air seems to help out here in West Texas. I seem to recall that some models can have their sensitivity adjusted, but I'd have to research that further.

You made me think of one point I'd missed in my earlier message. Ron White likes to say that it took him years to teach his wife that the smoke detector was not an indicator of "done-ness" in the kitchen. If you have a similar problem you might try placing the detector a little lower on the wall. It's not ideal, but it's sure better than disconnecting it.
 

Pydpiper

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Jan 4, 2005
Messages
1,778
Location
Brantford/Woodstock
Our smoke detectors false a lot, seems to have something to do with the stove, nothing is burning, or even close, but both seem to go off anyways. Would a better one stop that from happening?
 

LEDMaster2003_V2

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Sep 30, 2006
Messages
113
Ah yes, my favorite subject (besides flashlights!)

TedTheLed: There are dust immune units, like System Sensor's Filtrex, but they are designed to be used with fire alarm systems and haven't yet trickled down to the consumer market.

Yes, detectors should be replaced every 10 years, as, just like us, their senses deteoriate with age. If you have no idea when they were installed, it's best just to replace.

Also, use a spray to test. The test button might check the sensor's ability to detect smoke, but it doesn't really check the sensor's vents. It can't tell you whether the vents are OK or so clogged it'd give a plumber nightmares for the rest of their life! If you are very careful, you can use actual smoke, but it's not recommended.
 

EssLight

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
176
Location
near Philadelphia, PA
LEDMaster2003_V2 said:
Also, use a spray to test. The test button might check the sensor's ability to detect smoke, but it doesn't really check the sensor's vents. It can't tell you whether the vents are OK or so clogged it'd give a plumber nightmares for the rest of their life! If you are very careful, you can use actual smoke, but it's not recommended.
Why is actual smoke not recommended?

Isn't it simple enough to light a candle, blow it out so it is smoking, and hold it in the vicinity of the unit to test it?
 

LEDMaster2003_V2

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Sep 30, 2006
Messages
113
EssLight said:
Why is actual smoke not recommended?

Isn't it simple enough to light a candle, blow it out so it is smoking, and hold it in the vicinity of the unit to test it?


Because, when the alarm sounds, you might get frightened and drop the lit candle/match and start a fire! or you might accidently start the detector unit itself on fire!!:ohgeez:
 

kc2ouf

Newly Enlightened
Joined
May 18, 2006
Messages
85
Location
Staten Island, NY
I went to a class on radiological emergencies recently. The instructor (a professor of biophysics) said that since the radioactive element in smoke detectors has a half-life of thousands of years, the 10 year thing is marketing nonsense.

Of course I still change mine (especially since my dad died in a fire) but it was an interesting point.
 

GJW

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Jan 25, 2002
Messages
2,030
Location
Bay Area, CA
kc2ouf said:
I went to a class on radiological emergencies recently. The instructor (a professor of biophysics) said that since the radioactive element in smoke detectors has a half-life of thousands of years.......

A little over 400 actually.
Americium 241
 

EssLight

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Oct 11, 2006
Messages
176
Location
near Philadelphia, PA
LEDMaster2003_V2 said:
Because, when the alarm sounds, you might get frightened and drop the lit candle/match and start a fire! or you might accidently start the detector unit itself on fire!!:ohgeez:

I take it these things have actually happened. And yuandrew's response is evidence of that.

I'm perplexed, though. Because, if I'm testing a smoke detector, and it suddenly goes "BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!" really loud, well, that's the result I am looking for and expecting, so it is not going to frighten me. And I am not going to hold flame up to the unit, it doesn't detect flame, it detects smoke, so I blow the candle out to produce smoke before I hold it up to the unit, so I can't set the unit on fire. Or am I just being too logical about this?
 

GJW

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Jan 25, 2002
Messages
2,030
Location
Bay Area, CA
I imagine it has happened but I would guess that the reason you're not to test with actual flame is that soot buildup will impair the detector's operation.
Aerosol gas made for testing detectors leaves no residue.
And for cleaning detectors, vacuuming is preferred over compressed air.
 

Sigman

* The Arctic Moderator *
Joined
Sep 25, 2002
Messages
10,124
Location
"The 49th State"
kc2ouf said:
...the 10 year thing is marketing nonsense.

Of course I still change mine (especially since my dad died in a fire) but it was an interesting point.
Perhaps, however when I was working in the Hazardous Waste Response, Classification, & Disposal field - I tested, calibrated, & repaired our hand held toxic sensors.

The sensors can still degrade & perhaps not perform as "advertised". I don't believe in gambling with safety, liability, & such - therefore, we replaced the sensors when it was time.

Our neighborhood is just going on 10 years old, therefore the smoke detectors in the houses are as well (or longer depending on how long they sat on the shelf before installation).

We have one detector that started going off whenever we opened the oven door. The neighbor lady called me up as hers were going off intermittently & they couldn't even sleep at night. She was freaked out/respectful that their could be a fire somewhere.

I went over & checked everything out and decided it was a good time to replace all of hers & ours as well.

At least our house & her house seem to be all "happy" now (and she says she's sleeping better!).

Just thinking of what happened to your father...how can any of us gamble on something like that.

Replace those batteries & detectors when required and don't forget the carbon monoxide detectors too!!!
 
Last edited:

The Shadow

Newly Enlightened
Joined
May 2, 2006
Messages
175
Location
Standing right beside you...
Pydpiper said:
Our smoke detectors false a lot, seems to have something to do with the stove, nothing is burning, or even close, but both seem to go off anyways. Would a better one stop that from happening?

A new photoelectric smoke alarm might be better around the kitchen. I just replaced a bad alarm last night with the photoelectric. The packaging said it's better at avoiding false alarms in the kitchen.

On a side note, my Alarm was only a year old. First Alert has a 5 year warranty, so they agreed to reimburse me up to $40 for the new one. I just have to mail in the receipt and UPC code, then trash the old one. That's a good warranty!
 

JNewell

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 28, 2006
Messages
1,800
Location
Land of the Bean and the Cod
I have installed both photo-sensitive and ionization and I have installed them on two separate loops.

One is connected to a 'security system' that will dial a monitoring station if the alarms trip.

The other is AC powered with battery backup and is wired so that all detectors sound simultaneously if any one is tripped. That loop also includes high temp and CO detectors in the basement, where the oil-fired boiler is located.

All are wired with fire-rated wiring.

You can't be too safe on this stuf...IMO...
 
Top