Smoke detectors are one of the most important, and possibly most neglected, devices in the home. Keeping them up to date, check them regularly, and having them replaced is an important part of home maintenance and care. While some of these maintenance tasks can be completed by yourself, it is usually wise to get the help of a professional electrician for installations or code corrections related to your smoke detector or carbon monoxide detectors.
What is the Difference Between Hard-wired and Battery-Powered Detectors?
Hard wired smoke detectors are devices that are installed directly into the existing electrical system in your home. They usually come with batteries that are there just in case the power goes out in your home. Battery-powered detectors run on batteries alone. They do not have to be installed into the electrical circuit so they are easier to install.
However, many homeowners choose hard-wired smoke detectors instead of battery-powered detectors because of their superior lifespan and reliability. Batteries in battery-powered detectors need to be changed frequently, and the detector will not work if the battery is dead. Hard-wired detectors, on the other hand, will rarely need a change of battery, and will continue to sound an alarm without running out of batteries until it is turned off.
Hard-wired smoke detectors have another huge benefit in that they can be interconnected with other smoke detectors in the home. This means that if one smoke detector sounds an alarm, all of the other devices on the circuit will also be triggered to sound an alarm. This is a much safer option than battery-powered detectors that work completely separately from the other devices in the home.
When Do I Need a New Smoke Detector?
Smoke detectors are built to last around 10 years. Many homeowners simply have them installed and then forget about them unless they are beeping. However, you should always make note of when you purchased the device, and plan to replace it after 10 years, even if it appears to be working properly.
If the home you have purchased or rented already has smoke detectors installed, you can check the manufacture date on the device. If this information cannot be ascertained, it is best to purchase and install new smoke detectors to be on the safe side. Some new homeowners in Palm Springs choose to install all new smoke detectors in the home upon moving in, even if they are under ten years old.
There are other reasons for purchasing and installing new smoke detectors. If your smoke alarm is continuously going off even when there is no fire, it may be time for a new one. Additionally, if the alarm does not sound when the test button is pushed, even after installing new batteries, it is time to purchase a new one. Because of their relative affordability and their crucial function, most people opt for a replacement rather than a repair of a faulty smoke detector.
Where Should Smoke Alarms Be Installed?
If the smoke alarms were installed before you moved in, it is important to verify that they are in the proper location. If they are not, it is a good idea to make a call to your electrician. Here are a few guidelines for where smoke alarms should be installed.
Each home should have one smoke alarm in every area where someone sleeps. Additionally, at least one smoke alarm should be installed on every level (more if the level contains a bedroom or sleeping area.) If the smoke alarm is installed in the basement, it should always be placed on the ceiling near the bottom of the stairs.
Smoke alarms should always be installed either on the ceiling or less than 12 inches away from the ceiling on the wall. Smoke alarms should never be installed in the kitchen or within 10 feet of any appliances that may cause smoke or steam and trigger false alarms.
If your home has a pitched ceiling, be sure that the smoke detector is installed more than 4 inches, but less than 36 inches from the top of the peak. Finally, smoke alarms should never be placed near drafty areas such as doors, windows, or vents.
What is the Proper Maintenance for Smoke Detectors?
Specific maintenance may vary depending on the model that you have chosen. It is important to keep and refer to the instructions that come with your device. Many devices recommend regular cleaning, usually with a vacuum, to keep them working properly. In addition, all devices will need to be tested. Most manufacturers recommend testing them once a month. To test the device, simply get a ladder and press the test button that is found on the surface of the smoke detector. If the device beeps, then the unit is working properly. If it doesn’t make any sound, call your electrician and have them replace it immediately.
Some smoke alarms are fitted with a 10-year battery. When these batteries become dead, it is necessary to replace the device. Other smoke alarms come with regular batteries. The device will begin beeping when a battery change is necessary. For this type of smoke alarm, simply change the battery when it beeps and continue using the device until it is 10 years old. Be sure to always use the kind of battery recommended by the manufacturer to ensure functionality.
Finally, an important part of smoke detector maintenance is to discuss an emergency plan with your family. As part of your plan, set a prearranged location where all of the family can meet. This location should be far enough from the home to ensure safety and ease to get to. Have each family member memorize or carry with them emergency numbers, and have a plan for who will get babies or pets out in case of an emergency.
Do I Need to Hire an Electrician?
Now that you have some basic information about smoke detectors, it is important to discuss whether or not it is necessary to hire an electrician for what may seem like a basic task. While some tasks, such as monthly testing and changing the battery, can easily be completed by yourself, we believe that installation should always be completed by a professional. There are many reasons to invest in this service.
Electricians Can Recommend the Best Devices
Not every smoke detector is equal in quality and effectiveness. While it may not matter if you buy store-brand bread instead of an expensive loaf, it matters greatly which smoke detector you choose. Electricians know which models are reliable, safe, and up to code. They will likely only install devices that are made well, are of a professional quality, and have good ratings of safety and reliability. Instead of purchasing a cheap model from your drug store, trust your electrician to choose and install one that is trustworthy and long-lasting.
Electricians Know Where to Install the Devices
It can be difficult to know exactly where to install your smoke detectors. There are many guidelines for where to place them, how far from the kitchen they should be, and how many should be placed in the house. You can do your own research with regards to smoke detector placement, but it is much easier to hire an electrician who already has that information readily available and can take your unique home into account when finding the best placement for the devices.
Electricians Can Save You Money
Although you will pay a service fee in addition to the cost of the smoke detector when hiring an electrician, having a professional do the job can save you a lot of money. Installing a smoke detector can involve some delicate electrical work which can be dangerous and also expensive to get wrong. Faulty wiring can lead to expensive repairs, and depending on where you live, incorrect wiring can even involve some pretty hefty fines for code violations.
Improper installation can also lead to malfunctioning of the device which could mean either dealing with constant repairs or having to purchase a new smoke detector before 10 years has passed. You may be able to save money on labor by doing it yourself, but the cost could be high.
Electricians Can Keep You Up to Code
The rules and regulations set down in the National Electrical code change every few years. This means that those who are not up to date on all of the changes could be in violation of the code without even knowing it. Although some states do not require citizens to follow these guidelines, most cities, Palm Springs included, have adopted the NEC and enforce the code.
Even if you live in an area where these guidelines are not enforced, following them can help to keep your family safe. The NEC takes modern technologies and advancements into consideration while writing up the new rules and they make for safer homes. Since the average homeowner does not spend the afternoon perusing the new National Electrical Code handbook to scan for possible violations, it may be easier to hire an electrician who is already abreast of all of the new changes and can ensure that your installation takes them into account.
Electricians Can Fix Other Problems at the Same Time
Perhaps you have a light that keeps flickering, an outlet that goes in and out, or a breaker that is continually tripping. These problems, along with many others, can signal a deeper problem with your electrical system. While you are getting your smoke detector replaced, it is a good idea to have your electrician take a look at any other problems and concerns that you have noticed in your home’s electrical system. Having multiple tasks completed at the same time can help save money on labor, and can prevent small problems from turning into larger ones that are more expensive to fix.
Your electrician will be happy to take a look at other areas of your electrical system while performing smoke detector installations. They can check to make sure that everything is functioning optimally and that your electrical system is safe. In addition, they can check for any code infractions that need to be dealt with.
Electricians Can Install Interconnecting Smoke Detectors
Experts from the National Fire Protection Association all agree that interconnecting smoke detectors are the safer option. Interconnection smoke detectors, as the name suggests, are all connected rather than being independent of each other. This means that if the fire starts in the living room, all of the alarms in the entire house will go off, alerting everyone to the presence of smoke.
In many cases, fire spreads quickly throughout the house. Many of the injuries and deaths that occurred due to fire were reported to have occurred in a room completely separate from the one in which the fire initially started. The extra time gained by having an interconnected system could save you or a loved one’s life. Today interconnecting systems are even more reliable and helpful. With wired and wireless options, some systems even connect to your smartphone and can tell you exactly where the fire is as well as your best option for escape.
Interconnected smoke alarms can be a challenge to set up. Your electrician will be able to get the process done in one day, giving you immediate peace of mind without having to figure out the system yourself. You can expect your electrician to install the system, test it, and then give you instructions on how to use and maintain it.
What About Carbon Monoxide Detectors?
Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors each serve a completely different function. While smoke detectors sound the alarm if there is an excessive amount of smoke in the home, carbon monoxide detectors search for the presence of harmful CO gasses that can cause illness and even death.
Carbon monoxide is particularly dangerous because it is colorless and odorless, and occurs as a byproduct of many of the appliances and tools that you use on a daily basis. Your vehicle, stove, and heater can all create CO. Improper ventilation, leaks, and improper usage of grills, stoves, or other appliances can lead to the build-up of carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide can slowly rob your body of oxygen, resulting in headaches, dizziness, nausea, loss of consciousness, and even death. Homeowners who live in colder regions are more at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning, and should always look out for early signs.
Both carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms should be installed inside the home. It is a good idea to purchase smoke detectors and CO alarms that have full compatibility. This will make it easy to connect and maintain them.
Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed on every floor of the home and should be within 15 feet of bedroom doors. They should be installed near any appliances that burn fuel so that carbon monoxide emissions can be detected before injury or illness occurs.
Choosing the Right Electrician
Even with a small job such as a smoke detector installation, it is important to choose an excellent and trustworthy electrician for the job. Always make sure that the electrician you choose is licensed, bonded, and can provide adequate proof of insurance. Do not simply choose an electrician based on low labor costs. These low costs might reflect a lack of qualification or a low-quality job. Paying a little extra for labor is worth it to have the job done right the first time.
Search for a company with extensive experience, specifically experience in the installation of smoke alarms, and make sure that their ratings are good on reputable sites such as BBB. Companies with a high degree of trustworthiness and excellent service will also have excellent customer ratings and reviews. You may even be able to get a good reference from a friend or family member who has used the company before.
Choose a company that offers a 100% customer satisfaction money-back guarantee. These guarantees, which should always be provided in writing, ensure that you will get the best customer service and the best quality work. Check their safety policies to make sure that they are putting the safety of residents and employees first.
Although homeowners always hope that they will never have to use their smoke alarms, keeping them well-maintained and updated is crucial for the safety of the residents in your Palm Springs home. While installing a basic battery-powered unit in your home may be a simple process, we recommend having a professional electrician install hard-wired and interconnected devices in your home. Doing so will ensure that each device is reliable and is located in the right areas of the home. Hiring an electrician for the job may cost more in the beginning, but the benefits of doing so far outweigh the cost that comes with faulty wiring or cheap devices.