Every home needs a working fire alarm/smoke detector. But that smoke detector isn't going to do you a bit of good if you don't periodically check to make sure that it is still in working condition. If you only notice that there is an issue with your fire alarm after there is an actual fire, it may be tragically too late to do anything about it. Here are three maintenance tips you should follow on a regular basis to ensure that your smoke detector will keep your family safe for many years to come.
Clean Every Detector Twice a Year
Most smoke detectors are placed high up on a wall and may be out of sight and out of mind for the most part. But its location does not mean that it can't be contaminated by airborne dust and other substances. Twice a year, grab an upholstery wand and wipe the walls on all sides of the detector to clear away any dirt or dust. If it's possible to do so without damaging it, you can also remove the detector and gently vacuum out the interior compartments. Be sure to check your owner's manual in advance though to make sure doing so will not damage the detector.
Change the Batteries on the Same Day Every Year
Normally a smoke detector will begin to beep at you if the battery is dying. But you don't want to risk finding out the hard way that the battery no longer has any juice. Pick a day on the calendar that is of some significance to you and make a resolution that you will always change the batteries in your smoke detector on this day each year. If you can't think of a good day off the top of your head, why not pick the day that Daylight Savings begins? This will always be on a weekend so you'll have some time to do some cleaning and maintenance tasks around the house.
Test Your Detectors with Actual Smoke
Yes, just pushing the button on the detector should be enough to let you know if it is still working or not. If it is, you'll hear a beeping sound when the button is pressed. But, if you really want to make sure the detector is working as intended, you're going to need a match. No, this article is not suggesting that you set your house on fire. Rather, simply light the match and then blow it out after a few seconds and then quickly raise the match right up to the detector. If your fire alarm is working properly, the smoke will be detected and the alarm will sound.
Having a smoke detector in your home is only useful if it actually raises the alarm when you need it to. If you want to make sure that yours is working properly, get into the habit if changing the battery and cleaning around the detector at least once or twice a year. If you notice that your detector is no longer working properly, get yourself a replacement immediately.