Smoke detectors are a critical part of home safety. They detect and warn people about the presence of smoke and a possible fire. Smoke and fires usually aren’t as dangerous during the day when you are at home and awake. People typically smell the smoke early enough to put out the fire before there is too much damage. Smoke detectors are very helpful at night when you are asleep or when you are away from home (if you have a monitored smoke alarm).
Types of smoke detectors
There are two categories of smoke alarms for residential use: ionization and photoelectric sensors.
Ionization smoke detectors are like window sensor alarms. A sensor on the window and a sensor on the frame touch, completing an electrical circuit. The alarm sounds as soon as the circuit is broken. In ionization smoke detectors, wires attach to separate electrodes. The electrodes complete the circuit by turning the air molecules between the electrodes into positive and negative ions. When smoke enters the detector through small openings, it disrupts the circuit, triggering the alarm.
Photoelectric smoke detectors (sometimes called optical smoke alarms) use an LED light inside the alarm chamber. These detectors work similarly to window and door alarms that use an invisible beam of light. When the beam is broken or interrupted, the alarm sounds. The LED light creates a straight line inside the detector. When smoke enters the detector, it disrupts the light. It causes some of the light to be redirected to a different sensor, triggering the alarm.
Choosing the right type of smoke detector
Choose a smoke detector that has a label identifying which testing laboratory certified it. This is an easy way to ensure that you choose a smoke detector that passes current regulations.
Photoelectric smoke detectors tend to be better at detecting smoldering fires earlier. Ionization alarms, on the other hand, may detect fast flaming fires earlier.
Combination smoke alarms use both ionization and photoelectric technologies for maximum protection. Experts recommend combination smoke alarms, particularly for residential use.
Monitored vs. unmonitored smoke detectors
Monitored smoke detectors add an extra layer of protection. The detector sounds an alarm and sends an alert to the central monitoring station when it detects smoke. Whether you are home or away, staff can alert the fire department and make sure you and your home are safe.
Unmonitored smoke detectors, on the other hand, sound an alarm but do not alert the fire department or any alarm monitoring station. When a traditional smoke detector goes off, it is up to you to respond and call for help.
There are many benefits to choosing a monitored smoke alarm. The most crucial advantage is receiving a rapid response from emergency services. Even if you are incapacitated, asleep, or away from home, emergency responders will receive accurate information from the alarm monitoring service and respond quickly.
Monitored smoke alarms also provide peace of mind for the elderly and their families. Elderly and sick people are usually more susceptible to becoming disoriented or passing out from smoke inhalation. With a monitored smoke detector, the right emergency services will still respond quickly.
Installation standards for smoke detectors
It is essential to install smoke detectors in the right places around your home. At a minimum, you should have one smoke detector in each sleeping room, one outside the bedrooms, and at least one on every level of your house. Most homes also have at least one smoke detector in each living area. Larger homes may require more sensors for the best protection.
Install your smoke detectors on the ceiling or high on a wall (within 12 inches from the ceiling). Steer clear of doors, air ducts, and windows. These areas usually have more air movement and might prevent the smoke alarm from detecting smoke quickly. If you have vaulted ceilings, install the smoke detector at least 3 feet from the peak of the ceiling.
How to avoid false alarms
Certain locations in your home are more likely to cause false alarms (sometimes called nuisance alarms) than others. Be sure to install smoke detectors at least 10 feet away from your cooking areas to minimize the risk of false alarms from cooking fumes.
Avoid mounting smoke alarms in direct sunlight or fluorescent light. Also, avoid bathrooms, furnaces, HVAC vents, and fireplaces.
Smoke detector maintenance
Do not paint your smoke detectors, add glue, or put other materials on them. This can damage your alarm or prevent them from detecting smoke accurately.
The National Fire Protection Association reports that one in five homes have smoke alarms that do not work. Most of them have dead, missing, or disconnected batteries. Test your smoke alarms regularly and replace the batteries as needed. Some people set alerts in their digital calendars to remind them when to test their smoke alarms.
Carefully vacuum your smoke alarms monthly to keep dirt, dust, and debris from blocking the sensors. No matter how bothersome a smoke alarm might be, do not disable it. Instead, either replace it or find another solution.
Does your family have a fire escape plan? Everyone must know what to do if the fire alarm sounds or in the event of other emergencies.
Dynamark Security is proud to offer high-quality monitoring services for all your alarms, from smoke detectors to home security systems. The staff at our central monitoring station maintains the highest certification credentials in the industry. We strive to ensure every customer is safe, secure, and comfortable in their home or business. Contact us today to learn more about our alarm monitoring services.