Do you know how to test your smoke detector?
Posted on 26th September 2018 at 21:16
Smoke detectors, by design, often go unnoticed in a property. They do not require much in the way of maintenance, but they are lifesavers and it is therefore essential that they are tested regularly to make sure that they will ‘kick in’ when needed.
Regulations which came into effect in 2015 require all privately rented properties to have smoke detectors fitted on each level. These are tested by landlords prior to the start of any tenancy but thereafter fall into the responsibility of the tenant. So, regardless of whether you are a landlord getting ‘tenant ready’, a tenant undertaking maintenance responsibilities or indeed a home-owner being safety-aware, we thought it might be useful to have a small reminder what testing should be carried out.
There are 2 basic methods: -
1. Using the test button – most detectors will have a test button on them and this can simply be pushed (either by getting up to it via a suitable step-ladder or using a pole or stick, such as a broom handle from a lower point). As you push the button the alarm should sound – if not the battery is most probably dead and should be replaced. Having replaced the battery, the alarm should be tested again.
2. Using a smoke source – the best way to create just a little bit of smoke is to light, and then blow out, one or two matches below the detector. The smoke will rise up towards the sensor and should set the alarm off.
Should either of the above tests result in no activation of the alarm then the first action should be to replace the battery. In most cases this is all that is required but if, with new batteries installed, the unit still doesn’t work we suggest replacement as soon as possible.
In terms of frequency, it is often suggested (mostly by government-led campaigns) that checks should be carried out twice per annum when the clocks are changed. Other sources would suggest that monthly checks are more appropriate. At Strawberry we say do what suits you best - as frequently as possible but at least twice per annum.
In between checks, keep your detectors at their best by cleaning dust away from the area where they are sited. Never ‘borrow’ the battery for other appliances as this often leaves them out of action for a longer time than was intended, and perhaps consider having an annual battery refresh as a matter of course. Smoke alarms themselves, we suggest, should be replaced every 10 years or so – after all it is a relatively small cost for an invaluable piece of protection.
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