Smoke detectors are devices that are used with the purpose of saving lives in the event of a fire-related emergency. These devices provide early warning alerts when they detect smoke allowing those nearby to address the emergency early or safely escape. They are also now mandatory for all new homes or renovated residences as of January 2017 in Australia. However as great as they are, these devices can sometimes malfunction and should be fixed at the first signs of any abnormalities.
Reset The Smoke Detector
Like many electronics, often the most effective solutions are the simplest ones. This is no different when it comes to smoke detectors. If you identify any problems with your smoke detector, you should first try restarting the device to see if the problem is resolved before you move onto any further steps. However, unlike many other electronic devices, restarting a smoke detector can be a more complex task.
The first step in resetting your smoke detector is by turning off the power to the smoke detector at the circuit breaker. Once completed, the smoke detector can be removed and unplugged. The next step should be to remove the batteries of the smoke detector if the unit is battery powered. Following this, the test button should be pressed and held in for 15-20 seconds.
Once completed, the batteries should be re-inserted in the device and plugged back into its power supply point. The smoke detector can then be mounted back into its original location. After the reset has been completed, the detector should sound a beeping tone indicating that it is operating as normal. If this tone continues to persist, the batteries might need to be replaced.
Clean The Device
If you believe your smoke detector has become unresponsive or otherwise failing to correctly trigger, it may be due to the device having accumulated too much dust/smoke or other obstructions over time. Dust/soot or other small particles accumulated within a smoke detector can make the device less sensitive or even unable to correctly identify and respond to smoke detections.
One way to test this is to simply hold a candle half a ruler length below the smoke detector unit and observe if the device detects the heat of the flame. If the device does not detect the flame, the candle should be extinguished and then held beneath the device again to see if the remaining smoke is able to trigger the smoke detector.
If the device is still unresponsive, remove the device following the steps mentioned in the previous solution. Once completed, try using a vacuum cleaner or air blower to clean the vents of the device of dust and other obstructions. Additionally, the covers of some smoke detectors can be removed using a screwdriver. If the device is still unresponsive or insensitive to its alarm triggers, the cover can be removed using the correct screwdriver and then cleaned using a duster.
Additionally, the surrounding areas of a smoke detector should be kept clean to try and avoid build-ups of dust or other obstructive particles in these devices. Nearby fireplaces should also be kept clean to help prevent any ash or soot particle build up within these devices.
Move The Device To A Less Sensitive Area
Smoke detectors placed too close to kitchens or fireplaces may be prone to trigger false alarms due to the increased exposure to smoke sources. This can be annoying for some homeowners/residents and cause unnecessary panic or confusion in some circumstances. Additionally, smoke detectors that are excessively exposed to smoke may become less responsive due to the build-up of soot in their systems.
To help remedy this, some smoke detector models have a temporary mute function to allow users to mute their device while they cook or use the fireplace. This will usually prevent the alarm from being triggered for 10-15 minutes allowing you to cook without the fear of unintentionally triggering your smoke detector.
If your smoke detector does not have this function or you wish to try to find a more permanent solution, the smoke detector can be moved to a less sensitive area to avoid any confusion or false alarms. This can be achieved by removing the unit following the steps listed in the previous solutions.
Once completed, the device should be temporarily placed in nearby areas to identify the best area and to test how well it performs in the new location before committing to drill any holes or make other permanent adjustments. For more information on installing and maintaining your smoke alarm recommend visiting the NFPA website.
Correctly identifying and troubleshooting any issues that you may have with your smoke detector could be the difference between life and death. Therefore, maintaining and repairing these devices is an important task that should not be taken lightly. Using the instructions above can help you identify and fix some of the more common problems encountered with smoke detectors.