Smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors have a life expectancy when it comes to fire safety. Even if you perform regular maintenance and testing, which suggest they are still functioning correctly, you should always replace the unit(s) at the end of their useful life. And here is why…the test button only checks whether the alarm components and batteries are working, it does not check sensor capability. As they age, sensors begin to lose sensitivity. You want any alarm in your house to be at its peak sensing ability, to ensure your safety.
A smoke detector is an essential part of your fire protection plan. According to the NFPA, 3 of every 5 home-fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarm or a non-working one. A smoke detector has a life expectancy of 10 years, unless otherwise suggested by the manufacturer. Any smoke detector in your home which is over 10 years old should be immediately replaced. It is important to note, older modeled smoke alarms have a 30% probability of failure within the first 10 years. Newer smoke alarms do better and should last a full 10 years. Replace any detector which continually beeps, even after a battery change.
When purchasing a new smoke detector it is a good practice to write the date of installation or the manufactured suggestion expiration date on the back of the detector in permanent marker. You should also complete a monthly test of your detector, replace all batteries twice a year (excluding units with a 10 year guaranteed lithium battery) and remove and dust or build up on your detectors regularly.
Most CO detectors are good for 5-7 years, depending on the manufacturer recommendations. As with a smoke detector, CO detectors should be replaced once they have reach their life expectancy to ensure the optimal protection.
Usually, the units have a date stamp on the back, showing the unit’s age and/or expiration date. Many systems are equipped with an alert, which will cause the system to chirp or signal when they’re nearing the end of their useful life (the signal differs from the one which indicates a low battery). Likewise, systems which have digital reader may display an “ERR’, “E09” or “end” error code to alert you. Whichever system you purchase, read the owners’ manual to see what safety measure are specific to your make and model.
As with a smoke detector, it is essential that you check you system monthly and follow proper maintenance procedures. Remember, the test button will only indicate whether the alarm is working, not the sensor. To check the sensor, use a test kit, which you can purchase at a local home store.
Learn more about having professionally installed smoke and CO detectors in your home or business. Call Northeast Security Systems at (201) 529-0100.