Inspection and Maintenance of your Home’s Smoke Alarms

A common safety issue that home inspectors find is non-functioning smoke alarms. Usually the cause of this is dead batteries, but also sometimes broken or disconnected smoke alarms. It is imperative that all homeowners replace the batteries in their smoke alarms once a year, or whenever a…

Building Pro Inspections Smoke Alarm Saftey

A common safety issue that home inspectors find is non-functioning smoke alarms. Usually the cause of this is dead batteries, but also sometimes broken or disconnected smoke alarms. It is imperative that all homeowners replace the batteries in their smoke alarms once a year, or whenever a ‘beep’ alerts them to the fact that the batteries are running low. This is a simple job but one of vital importance: It’s about protecting your home and those who reside within it. The few minutes that a smoke alarm’s siren gives you and your family may be the difference between ensuring a safe evacuation or suffering a fire injury, or even death. Up to two-thirds of reported deaths caused by home fires from 2003 to 2006 resulted from fires in homes that lacked working smoke alarms. This is an alarming statistic for such an easily preventable task as maintaining your home’s smoke alarms.

FIRE SAFETY

Under BC law, smoke alarms are mandatory in all homes, including all sleeping rooms. The primary role of a smoke alarm is to detect the early stages of a fire in your home and to alert you to the fact that you need to vacate your home. The importance of smoke alarms cannot be underestimated. Without a working smoke alarm a fire in your home could spread without your knowledge, putting you at risk of burns or suffocation by smoke inhalation, which in both cases can, in the worst case scenario, lead to death. In fact, your chances of dying in a home fire may be reduced by 50 percent if you have a working smoke alarm in your home.

TYPES OF SMOKE ALARMS

Smoke alarms consist of two basic parts: a sensor to sense smoke and a loud electronic alarm. There are two main types of smoke alarms – ionization and photoelectric. Each type of smoke alarm detects distinctly different types of fires, so dual sensor alarms, which utilise both types of sensors, are the best options. Ionization smoke alarms are best at detecting the small particles typical of fast, flaming fires, while photoelectric ones are best at detecting the large particles typical of smoky, smouldering fires. Dual-sensor smoke alarms combine ionization and photoelectric technology to save you the hassle of installing two separate smoke detectors.

SMOKE AND CO

In addition to smoke alarms, you will also need to install carbon-monoxide (CO) units. CO alarms measures the amount of CO gas in your home’s air and alert you when the levels are too high. CO is a dangerous gas – it is colourless and odourless and you can get sick from longer exposure to even minor amounts. The health risks of not having a CO detector are nausea, headaches, and dizziness.

SMOKE ALARM MAINTENANCE

Alarms can be hardwired into a 120-volt house current or run off standard AA batteries. The batteries in your smoke alarm should be tested on a regular basis (aim for once a month) and replaced at least once each year. Whether the alarms are hardwired or wirelessly connected all of them will sound. Smoke alarms are easily maintained and can be affordably installed. Basic smoke alarms cost as little $15, with CO alarms from $35 and up. There’s also the option of interconnected smoke alarms, which communicate between devices and provide integrated protection throughout your home. Ensure your safety, and don’t run the risk of becoming another statistic.

At Building Pro Inspections we are in the business of making you feel safe and secure in the place you call home. Among the many things we inspect (read a sample report of our comprehensive home inspection) are your smoke and CO detectors to ensure they are correctly installed and working properly. As always, the best thing you can do for your own peace of mind is to book a professional home inspection. Contact Building Pro today.