How to Test Smoke Detector Alarms

how to test smoke detector

A properly working smoke detector can literally be the difference between life and death. 

In fact, the risk of dying in reported house fires was 55 percent lower in homes with working smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Association. 

But smoke alarms can only keep you safe if they are working properly! Because of this, you should have your smoke alarms installed by a professional electrician and keep up with regular maintenance. 

In this article, we will explain how to check your smoke alarms and what else you can do to keep your home and family safe from house fires. 

Introduction to How to Test Smoke Detector

Testing your smoke alarms or smoke detectors regularly is just one key aspect of smoke alarm maintenance. We will detail how to test your smoke alarms later on in this article, but here are some other important maintenance and fire safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure your smoke detectors are properly installed by a professional electrician. 
  • Ensure you have enough smoke detectors to protect your entire home and everyone in it. 
  • Replace your smoke detector batteries at least every six months. 
  • Replace your smoke alarms completely at least every 10 years. 
  • Inspect and clean your smoke detectors at least once per month. 
  • Make a household fire exit plan and practice your plan at least once or twice a year. You may also want to conduct an unexpected fire drill.
  • Ensure that your doors and windows are not blocked. 


Why it’s Important to Test Smoke Alarm

A properly working smoke detector is not just something you want, it’s something you undoubtedly need

Smoke detectors, like any other electrical device, can and do fail. Batteries die and other parts wear out or malfunction over time. But unlike other electrical devices in your home, smoke alarms are absolutely crucial for your safety. So thorough and regular maintenance is essential! 

Knowing your smoke alarms are working as they should will give you priceless peace of mind. You can rest easy knowing your home and your loved ones are being kept safe. 

A Step By Step Guide to How to Test Smoke Alarm 

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, you should check your smoke detectors at least once per month, replace the batteries at least once every six months, and replace the detectors completely every ten years. 

To check your smoke detectors, follow these steps monthly:

  1. First, check to see if your smoke detector manufacturer has any specific instructions for testing. If so, be sure to follow those. 
  2. Remember to let any household members know that you’re testing your smoke detectors ahead of time. 
  3. Ask a household member or someone else to help out. Have them stand as far away from the smoke detector as possible inside the home and listen to ensure the alarm can be heard clearly. 
  4. Press and hold the test button on the smoke detector for just a few seconds. It may take a few seconds to initiate, but a loud, high-pitched alarm should kick in. 
  5. Depending on the manufacturer, if you hold down the test button too long, the detector may go into programming mode. If this happens, just wait for the alarm to go back to normal and then press the test button again, but only briefly this time. 
  6. If the alarm sounds, it may turn off on its own after a few seconds, or you may need to press the test button again to turn it off. 
  7. If the alarm doesn’t sound, first try replacing the batteries. 
  8. If changing the batteries doesn’t solve the problem, you should call a professional electrician to come take a look immediately. They can help you determine if a replacement is needed. 
  9. In addition to testing the smoke alarm with the test button, you can use an aerosol spray to make sure the smoke sensor is in proper working condition. 
  10. Depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations, you may also want to check the smoke alarm using real smoke by lighting a few matches and holding them under the detector. 
  11. Lastly, you should thoroughly inspect the smoke detector to make sure that there isn’t any dust or other residue blocking the grates. In the event of a fire, buildup can cause the alarm to malfunction, it’s a good idea to clean your smoke detectors once per month with a soft cloth. 

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How to Test Smoke Detector: Wrapping Up 

If you come across any issues with your smoke detector, be sure to call a professional electrician immediately for help. You don’t want to put off having them fixed or replaced and leave your home or household members at risk.

If you’re based in Washington and need any help with fire alarm installation, maintenance, repair, or replacement, our experienced electrical technicians are here to help. Call 360-200-6050 to schedule an appointment and we’ll send someone out as soon as possible!

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