A lot of people will read this title and say smoke detector maintenance, no way. It is a device I stick on the wall or ceiling, and it lasts forever. This isn’t the case. As the Knoxville, TN area heads into our colder winter months, it is a great time to check out your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Why is it a good time to check these devices out? Well let’s look at the most common causes of house fires. The number one cause of house fires is cooking. The second most common reason for house fires is heating sources and the fourth is open flames, like fireplaces. The second and fourth most common reasons for a house fire make NOW a great time to review and check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Both of these heat sources (i.e. the furnace and the open flames from the fireplace) is used a whole lot more during our winter months.
How do you check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors?
So how do you check your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors? First let’s start with the smoke detectors. The first thing we need to check with smoke detectors is if we have them deployed to the house correctly. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) which sets the standard for both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, says we should have a smoke detector deployed inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of the home including the basement. If we have smoke detectors or combination units (smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in one unit) in each of these places, we have the correct number deployed. If you don’t, then your first step is to deploy detectors to all these locations.
Where should carbon monoxide detectors be placed?
Let’s talk about where carbon monoxide detectors should be deployed. The NFPA recommends that at a minimum, carbon monoxide detectors should be deployed at least one per level of the home. Ideally on any level with fuel burning appliances and outside of sleeping areas. Additional carbon monoxide detectors are recommended to be deployed between 5 to 20 feet from sources of carbon monoxide such as furnaces, water heaters or fireplaces. It still amazes me the number of homes Bent Nail Home Inspection Services look at that don’t have the correct number or placement of these devices.
When should I change the batteries on a smoke detector?
Ok, now that we know where these units should be deployed, let’s talk about our next step. The next step is to change the battery in these units. Yes, in newer houses the units are both wire and battery units, but you still need to change the battery in the unit at least once a year if not every six months. Personally, I like to pick a couple of major holidays to make it easy to remember to change the batteries. I pick New Year’s Day and July 4th as the days to change the batteries in my smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. If you haven’t changed the batteries in you units, call a handyman, and they can help you out.