How to choose a smoke alarm

Smoke alarms save lives and they are really easy to install. We’ll help you choose the right smoke alarm to suit your home.

Where should you have smoke alarms?

You should have smoke alarms installed in every bedroom, hallway and living area in your home. In multi-level homes, make sure a smoke alarm is located on the ceiling at the head of the stairways connecting the levels.

It’s a good idea to keep smoke alarms away from any air conditioner, heater or fan because these may cause a false alarm. Steam from bathrooms and cooking fumes from kitchens can also trigger smoke alarms so make sure they aren’t too close.

Types of smoke alarms

The two types of smoke alarms available are hard-wired and battery operated.

Hard-wired smoke alarms connect every alarm in a home together through the power mains. The benefit of this is that an alarm will sound throughout the home no matter where the fire is located. This is a great feature for large or multi-storey homes. They also feature a battery backup in case the power goes out. However, only a licenced electrician can replace or install hard-wired smoke alarms.

Battery operated smoke alarms work independently of each other, can be installed anywhere by anyone and changing the battery is a simple process.

Remember, if you need to install or replace an existing fire alarm, it is recommended that the alarm uses photoelectric technology for both hard-wired and battery power sources.

Maintaining your smoke alarm

It is important to change the battery of your smoke alarm every year. A good tip is to choose a significant date that you will remember to do this such as a birthday, Christmas or daylight savings. You should also test your smoke alarm every month by pressing the test button with a broom handle.

The grill area of the smoke alarm should be cleaned every few months with a vacuum to remove any dust or debris, which may trigger a false alarm.

Smoke alarms have a lifespan of about 10 years. If you’re unsure how old yours is, you may want to change it or get an electrician to check it for you.

Additional smoke alarm features

There are a few additional features that you may like when choosing your smoke alarm. A test button allows you to check if an alarm is working. Some of these can be triggered by simply shining a torch over a sensor.

A hush button silences false alarms for a few minutes. The battery test feature will warn you when the battery needs changing. An escape light switches on when the alarm is activated to assist in evacuation. A small insect screen can prevent insects from setting off the alarm.

Stay safe

Check out our wide range of smoke alarms, you’re sure to find one that is right for your home.

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Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint Test.

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