Smoke detectors are devices fitted in buildings to detect smoke which is an indication of fire. When they detect smoke they trigger an alarm which alerts those concerned to take immediate action. However, most people are not sure how long the smoke detectors last before they can be replaced.
We shall discuss the parameters to consider before the replacement of smoke detector battery or the entire detector. The correct maintenance practices are important before we consider a replacement.
According to the Australian standard 3786, an ideal smoke detector hard-wired with a good lithium battery should last 10 years. After which they should be replaced. During the ten years, smoke detectors are predisposed to different wear and tear factors. Which include electrical corrosion, accumulation of dust particles, small insects and other airborne contaminants.
After ten years, smoke detectors become less effective and have to be replaced. Failure to replace puts your household at risk of fire outbreaks which will cause unnecessary loss of property or even worse deaths.
First, check the manufacture date. Remove the smoke detector from the wall or ceiling board and check from behind the manufacture date. Always remember it needs to be replaced after 10 years. If the date is less than 10 years then return it to its usual position otherwise replace it.
While good quality lithium batteries in smoke detectors will give you up to 10 years of service, some batteries used in other detectors will require replacement after every three years. At the end of their lifespan, you will hear a sharp chirping from your detector which is an indication they require replacement.
Without the battery being functional the smoke detector is of no use. The battery supplies power for the constant services going on in the detector and the occasional services like alarm triggers and the flashing lights.
As soon as your detector sound a warning (a chirp or beep), its battery should be replaced. It should be done once a year. Some manufacturers recommend that it should be done twice a year. The first time should be when you are switching to the daylight time saving mode and the second time should be while switching it back to the standard time mode.
After the change of battery return the detector to its position and test if it is working. Press the test button on the interface of the detector to confirm it is working. A similar test by just pressing the button should be done every month to ensure it is working.
A smoke alarm will only work well if it is correctly installed and regularly checked. One with a missing or dead battery is similar to not having one. Below are some maintenance recommendations of smoke alarms.
Those powered by 9-volt batteries: They should be tested every month and the battery replaced once a year. The whole smoke alarm should be replaced after 10 years.
Those powered by a lithium battery: They require testing every month and should be replaced according to the manufacturer recommendation since the lithium battery is in-built and cannot be replaced or shoul not be replaced.
Those hard wired in to your home’s electricity system: Test them on a monthly basis, replace the battery (back-up) once every year and the entire smoke alarm after 10 years.