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Smoke Alarm Safety : Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Detector Safety

October 5, 2021


One of the services we at Golden Rule Home Watch offer includes checking the smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors, and replacing their batteries when necessary. These are essential equipment pieces for any home to protect the safety of its residents.

There are different types of smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. We’ll look at those here to help you pick the right type for your needs.

Types of Smoke Alarms

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that the two most commonly-recognized smoke detection technologies are ionization smoke detection and photoelectric smoke detection.

Ionization: These types of smoke alarms contain a tiny amount of radioactive material between two plates that are electrically charged. This ionizes the air and creates an air flow current between the plates. When smoke enters, it disrupts the ions, reduces the current flow, and activates the alarm. This type is best for flaming fires.

Photoelectric: These smoke alarms aim a light source into a sensing chamber at an angle facing away from the sensor. When smoke enters the chamber, it reflects light onto the light sensor and triggers the alarm. This type of smoke alarm is more responsive to smoldering fires.

Although each type has its specialty, all smoke alarms must be able to perform acceptably in all types of fire situations in order to provide fire protection. However, for the best protection, the NFPA recommends installing both technologies. With a combination smoke alarm, both are available in a single device.

For smoke alarm safety, the NFPA recommends changing the smoke alarm batteries at the same time you change the clocks for daylight savings time, or every 6 months. Batteries should also be replaced if the unit chirps a low-battery warning. Smoke alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries should be removed and replaced every 10 years. Alarm testing should be performed after a battery change to ensure consistent operation.

Related: Best Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors of 2021

Types of Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Since carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, it is almost impossible to detect. That’s why homes need a carbon monoxide detector for safety. Operating similarly to smoke alarms, they can detect levels of CO in the home. First Alert, a manufacturer of CO alarms, recognizes three different types: 10-year sealed battery alarms, plug-in alarms, and combination alarms.

10-Year Sealed Battery Alarms: These alarms seal the 10-year battery within the unit so batteries do not need to be replaced for the life of the alarm. You also do not get the “battery needs to be replaced chirping” that can be annoying with battery-fed alarms. They also do not need to be installed; 10-year sealed battery alarms can be placed on tabletops.

Plug-In Alarms: The plug-in CO detector simply plugs into any electrical socket. It also maintains a battery backup to offer protection even if the home loses power. As a combination alarm, it offers detection of both CO and explosive gases.

Combination CO Alarms: First Alert offers alarms that can detect both smoke and carbon monoxide in one unit, with a 10-year battery that lasts the life of the alarm. Hardwired versions come with battery backup.

When to Replace Detectors/Alarms

Smoke alarms and CO detectors themselves should be replaced every five to seven years.

Protect Your Home with Golden Rule Home Watch

Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector safety is only one way to protect your home. When you’re out of town, trust Golden Rule Home Watch & Concierge. Our professionals will visit your home on a pre-set schedule to monitor it for signs of potential trouble. You’ll be notified immediately if we do find anything, and we’ll provide resources for remediation. Your peace of mind and your family’s safety are top priorities for us.

Contact Golden Rule Home Watch at 855-928-2424. See our list of services that include Home Watch, Car Watch, Key Watch and Concierge.