It’s Time to Test Your Smoke and CO Detectors

by | Apr 20, 2020

Need A Complimentary Checkup for Your Home?

When’s the last time you checked your smoke detectors? How about your carbon monoxide alarms? If you’re not sure, then you’re likely due for some maintenance.

No need to panic – testing your smoke and CO detectors is really pretty painless. And for a fairly ho-hum chore, understanding how to properly care for and maintain these safety devices can save lives and property. So here’s what you need to know about the different kinds of detectors, how to test yours, and when to replace the batteries.

The Hippo Home Care Pros Say:

Changing your smoke alarm batteries is something that could save your life. To keep it simple, just change your batteries once in the summer and once in the winter.

Smoke Detectors

If you’ve had the same smoke detectors for a few years or just moved to a new home, it’s a good time to upgrade to a newer model. Smoke detectors and CO2 detectors have actually improved a lot in the last few years, so it’s worth investing in the new technology.

There are actually two kinds of smoke detectors – ionization and photoelectric – and they work differently.

  • Ionization smoke detectors use ionized particles to recognize the presence of smoke. This type of smoke detector is best for flaming fires.
  • Photoelectric detectors use a light sensor to recognize the presence of smoke and work best with fume-producing, smoldering fires.

So which type of smoke detector is best for your home? Well…why not both? Smoke detectors are so affordable that many people use a combination of the two in their homes, and some advanced models even offer both features in one device.

You can also choose between battery-operated and hard-wired devices. Many people use battery-powered because they’re easier to install but either one will do the job. Some newer homes feature hard-wired smoke detectors, but even those use a battery for backup in case of power failure.

In either case, you’ll need to change the batteries twice a year and test the device every month. To make sure you don’t forget, mark it on your calendar, set your phone to remind you, or add it to your tablet and computer calendars – whatever it takes to stick to the schedule.

No matter which type of smoke detector you choose, it will have a test button that sounds the alarm when pushed. You will also see a light (solid or blinking) that indicates the alarm is getting the power it needs. Check the manual for your particular device to make sure you know what the lights are telling you.

If the alarm doesn’t sound when you push the test button, replace the battery with a high-quality brand and test again. If the alarm still does not sound, replace your detector altogether (and do so right away so you’re not without).

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas produced by fuel-burning devices such as furnaces, fireplaces/chimneys and gas clothes-dryer vents. It’s also extremely poisonous, which is why CO detectors are a must in every home.

To protect yourself in the event of a leak, place CO detectors in the basement, on each floor of the house and in all sleeping rooms. Install as many as necessary to make sure the alarms can be heard in every room.

You can choose from three kinds of CO detectors: hard-wired, plug-in or battery operated. If you pick a plug-in or hard-wired model, make sure it includes a battery backup so it will continue to work even during a power outage.

Most CO detectors will emit a similar series of beeps:

  • Four beeps and a pause: Carbon monoxide detected. If you hear the alarm, get to fresh air immediately and call 911. Make sure everyone in your household knows to do the same.
  • One beep per minute: Low battery. You’re probably familiar with this one (which always seems to happen in the middle of the night). One beep per minute means your batteries are low and need to be replaced.
  • Five beeps per minute: Replace your device. Most CO detectors last between five and seven years, so when the detector emits five beeps per minute, it means the device itself needs to be replaced.

Installing and maintaining smoke alarms and CO detectors is an easy do-it-yourself project. It’s cheap, it’s quick, and you and your family will sleep better at night knowing you’re protected. Take a quick walk through your house today and see where smoke and CO detectors could help keep your home safe.

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