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In this article, we will take a look at the working and lifespan of smoke detectors. We will discuss the two popular types of smoke detectors which are ionization and photoelectric, we will see their working and understand how long the smoke detectors last and why?
Before we look at the lifespan of smoke detectors let us examine some basics about the care and maintenance of smoke detectors. Most of us forget about the smoke detectors after installation. We seldom check their condition or test if they are working or not. This negligence can cost us dearly. National Fire Protection Association blames three out of five home fire deaths on non-functioning or non-existent smoke detectors.
There are usually two types of smoke detectors:
For best results, it is recommended that you use both types of smoke detectors or a combination detector also called dual-sensor-detector that can catch both flaming and smoldering fire.
If your smoke detector starts giving you false alarms every now and then, it goes off on triggers like heat, humidity, chemical fumes, insects, steam, etc. then it is time to replace it. Consult the manual and call the technician. He will check and determine if it is a repair job or as is often the case a replacement is in order.
Although ten years is not a small period still the question arises why the smoke detectors stop working after this time? The answer lies in the following two factors;
Technology: Smoke detectors work on the principle of ionization. There are photoelectric sensors and a light beam inside the smoke detector. As the smoke enters the detector, its particles cross the light beam which gets diffused and aims towards the smoke sensor. This, in turn, triggers the alarm.
Now with the passage of time, the ionization process gets weak and the sensors degrade too. This eventually will end the life of the smoke detector.
Environment: By environment, we mean the area where the smoke detector is installed. Usually, smoke detectors installed on or close to kitchens and bathrooms fail early. And it is not without good reason. The steam and humidity of the bathroom and the greasy fumes of the kitchen laden with all the particles of the food we cook, fry, steam, etc. take their toll on the smoke detectors. Their photoelectric parts and electrostatic plates take a heavy beating. In the process, they malfunction and expire early.
Smoke detectors are very useful and important devices. They can save our lives and precious properties. A little bit of care on our part can ensure a long life of the smoke detectors. They will be your trusted companions. However, we must remember that smoke detectors have a shelf life. They won’t last forever, a time will come when you will have to replace them.