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Most modern smoke detectors will chirp to alert you the batteries are low, you should replace the batteries and test your smoke detector. Smoke detectors can be purchased at any hardware or large commercial department store.
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If your detector is powered solely by the air conditioning current in your house, there is no battery to change. However, if your detector is battery powered or has a battery backup power source, it is recommended you change the batteries at least twice a year. Pick a birthday or memorable day, such as New Year's Day to ensure you remember this change.
Typical homeowners will put the detectors up, see them hanging there on the wall, and feel safe. They don't give them a second thought - except for those annoying times the low battery chirp goes off in the middle of the night.
Test your smoke detectors monthly and if they're battery-operated, you need to change those batteries at least once a year. Many people change their smoke detector batteries on New Year's Day or some other holiday to help them remember. Carbon monoxide detector batteries need to be replaced every six months (a great time to do this is during daylight saving time when you're turning your clocks back or forward). When replacing the batteries, vacuum the inside of the detectors to remove dirt, dust, and debris, which can interfere with the working components.
Most smoke alarms have a life span between eight and 10 years, and again, replace the batteries every year. A smoke detector with a titanium battery or a hard-wired smoke detector can last 10 years, at which time you would just replace the whole unit. The recommendation is to replace them every five years because their ability to detect carbon monoxide is questionable after that point.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), minimum protection requires a smoke detector outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
On floors without bedrooms, detectors should be installed in or near living areas such as dens, living rooms, or family rooms. For extra protection, the NFPA suggests installing additional detectors in dining rooms, furnace rooms, utility rooms, and hallways. There should be one smoke detector located in every bedroom of a household.
Smoke detectors are not recommended for kitchens, bathrooms, or garages - where there are cooking fumes or steam. Attics and other unheated spaces - where humidity and temperature changes might affect a detector's operation.
Be sure everyone sleeping in your home can hear your smoke detectors' alarms even with bedroom doors closed. If not, or if any residents are hearing- impaired, install additional detectors inside bedrooms. For the hearing impaired, there are smoke detectors that flash a strobe light in addition to sounding an audible alarm.
There are two types of alarms - ionization and photoelectric. They operate on different principles and therefore may respond differently to various conditions.
Photoelectric smoke alarms may respond slightly faster to smoldering fires, while ionization alarms respond slightly faster to flaming fires. Since you can't predict the type of fire that will occur, it is difficult to recommend which is best. Both alarms will detect all types of fires that commonly occur in the home, and several manufacturers make a "dual sensor" model, combining the technology of both models into one device. Installing both types of smoke alarms, or a combination unit, in your home can enhance fire safety, and increase your chance of survival by up to 50%.