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How to Test Smoke Detector and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Wed, Apr 29, 2020

Every year, a lot of people die as a result of house fires. However, the use of smoke detectors has significantly reduced the number of casualties. Although smoke and carbon monoxide detectors help to protect you and provide safety, it is essential to remember that you can benefit from fire alarms only if they are working efficiently and correctly. Otherwise, they would be of no use. Therefore, you need to know how to test a smoke detector. This post will helo you with the steps for testing photoelectric smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. 

Why You Need to Test Fire Alarms and How Often?

Why Do You Need to Test Fire Alarms?

Everything requires maintenance, whether it is about us or we are talking about an electronic device. Likewise, smoke detectors are electronic devices that can deteriorate over time. Apart from time, there could be many other reasons for their malfunctioning. Therefore, you should test them regularly to make sure that they work efficiently. Also, replace batteries of your fire alarms if necessary. This will ensure the safety of your family. 

How Often You Need to Test Fire Alarms?

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), you should check a smoke detector at least once a month. And because batteries wear out more often, you should replace batteries at least once or twice per year, as it requires. Or you can get a 10-year sealed battery smoke detector. Moreover, review the user’s manual of your smoke detector. You need to check more often if you observe the following signs:

  • The detector gives false alarms
  • Your smoke detector wears out faster if your kitchen smoke actives it more often
  • If no one touches the smoke detector, but it emits short beeps

Moreover, according to USFA, there are two main types of smoke detectors:

Hard-wired Smoke Detectors

Your home’s electrical system supplies power to hard-wired smoke detectors. Usually, they have backup batteries that serve in a power outage. To make sure that batteries and other parts of the detector are working properly, make sure you check your hard-wired smoke detector monthly. 


Your battery-powered fire alarms can stop functioning properly if their battery is defected or worn-out. Therefore, you should test your battery-powered smoke detectors monthly. Moreover, you must never put old batteries in fire alarms. 

How to Test a Smoke Detector

How to Test Smoke Detector

A smoke detector or fire alarm is a device that senses smoke. When it senses smoke, it produces a sound that alarms you that there is a fire breakout nearby, and you need to take action.

As mentioned earlier, you need to test your detector at least once a month to make sure that your smoke detector is working properly. The manufacturer of your smoke detector gives you the idea of how you can test that smoke detector. However, most detectors have a button on the device. This button is easily accessible. To test your photoelectric smoke detector, follow the steps given below:

Step 1. Press the button on the device.

Step 2. Wait a few seconds until your smoke detector emits a loud and piercing sound.

Step 3. If you don’t hear the sound or it is not loud enough, there is a problem with the battery. Replace the battery and test the smoke detector again.

Step 4. Now that you have replaced the battery, but the sound doesn’t go off, your smoke detector might be faulty, and you need to replace the detector.

While testing your smoke detectors, there are some guidelines that you should follow. For instance, don’t forget to test your fire alarms monthly. It is also recommended by FEMA. Thoroughly clean out your smoke detector because dust and other debris can reduce the sensitivity of your smoke detector. If you don’t have a smoke detector with a long-life battery, make sure you replace the battery once a year. Moreover, check the user’s manual of your smoke detector.

How to Test a Carbon Monoxide Detector

As the name suggests, a carbon monoxide detector senses the presence of carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide, a byproduct of fire, is a silent killer because it is undetectable by humans. It is important to install carbon monoxide detectors to prevent harm. 

Like other smoke detectors, you should regularly test carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are working properly. However, the testing procedure is more or less similar to those of other smoke detectors. To test carbon monoxide detectors, follow the steps given below. 

Step 1. There is a test button on the device. Press and hold that button.

Step 2. Wait a few seconds until you hear two beeps. These two beeps indicate that your smoke detector has entered the testing mode.

Step 3. If you don’t hear the sound or it is not loud enough, there is a problem with the battery. Replace the battery and test the smoke detector again.

Step 4. If the carbon monoxide smoke detector doesn’t beep after you have replaced the battery, then there is a problem with the detector. Therefore, you should change the detector as soon as possible.

Along with testing the smoke detectors, there are other things that you need to remember. For instance, you need to test carbon monoxide detectors monthly. Also, make sure you clean carbon monoxide smoke detectors thoroughly. You need to replace backup batteries once a year so that the smoke detector doesn’t stop working. Also, inspect your ventilation system because carbon monoxide poisoning occurs due to its buildup in the area. 

The Warnings for Testing Smoke Detector and Fire Alarms

No matter how important it is to test a smoke detector, there are some warnings that you need to keep in mind while testing a smoke detector. These warnings for testing smoke detector and fire alarms are:

  • The test button present on the smoke detector tests the power connectivity of the smoke detector.
  • Make sure you don’t use incense or candles to test a smoke detector because the incense or candles produce smoke that contains oily or waxy particles. These oily or waxy particles can contaminate the smoke detector. Moreover, these particles also reduce the sensitivity of a fire alarm.
  • No matter how beautiful the decorations look, but make sure you don’t decorate any part of a smoke alarm with stickers, paints, or other things. These decorative items can reduce the sensitivity of a smoke detector and impair its function
  • The smoke fire alarms that you use are a device that only senses smoke and warn you. It doesn’t do anything apart from this, and similarly, it doesn’t eliminate the danger. Therefore, to survive a smoldering and raging fire, you, along with your family, must take action. Discuss and practice a fire escape plan with your family members.

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