Smoke alarms: Everything you need to know

The increasing number of appliances, power points and electricity we use daily means the risk of residential fire has gone up – enter, smoke alarms.

We know they’re incredibly important, but how much do you actually know about the smoke alarms in your house?

Making sure you have the right number, placement and maintenance of smoke detectors could literally mean the difference between life and death.

So, to make sure you’ve got yours right, here are the basics:

How many smoke alarms do I need?

When it comes to smoke detectors, it really is the more the merrier.

However, in Victoria it is mandatory to have at least one per storey of a residence.

Where should I put my smoke alarms?

The Australian Country Fire Authority (CFA) recommends smoke alarms are installed in or near each bedroom and living area.

This is important as they need to be located in a position that will wake residents up in the event of a fire.

They also recommend that all smoke alarms be interconnected so that if one goes off, they all do and everyone in the residence is alerted.

They should be installed to the following specifications:

  • On Ceilings – located in the centre of the ceiling, at least 30cm from any cornice or wall.
  • On Walls – located 30 – 50cm from the ceiling.

Essentially, the more places you have smoke detectors, the lower the risk of a fire or hazard getting out of control.

Is there anywhere I shouldn’t put a smoke alarm?

While there is no specific room in your house that shouldn’t have a smoke alarm, there are some areas that are likely to cause a lot more false alarms than others.

For example, you should always place these alarms at least 3 meters away from any cooking appliances (ie. toasters, ovens, etc.) as this is far more likely to trip your alarm.

Steam can also sometimes be mistaken for smoke particles so if you have an extremely steamy bathroom you may want to install the smoke alarm a few metres away.

How to care for your smoke alarms

Taking proper care of your smoke alarms is essential to ensure they are in good working condition.

Whether you are a homeowner or are just renting, you should do the following:

  • Press the test button until the alarm sounds every month to check it’s still working.  
  • Replace the battery every year* or in the event that it emits a warning sound (a high pitched beep occurring every 30 seconds).
  • Replace it as per the manufacturers recommendation. New units have an expiration date underneath the battery. Generally smoke alarms will need to be replaced every 10 years.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust particle build up regularly as this can affect smoke alarms sensitivity and performance.

*If you have a smoke alarm with a life long or lithium battery you will not be able to replace it. The battery should last as long and the smoke alarm itself ie. approximately 10 years.

Need to get smoke alarms installed, replaced or repaired?

We can help you with all three! Simply give us a call on 0403 734 299 or click the button below and one of our friendly technicians will help you get exactly what you’re looking for.

We also offer Electrical Safety Checks including Smoke Alarm Checks for landlords in compliance with new 2021 Victorian government regulations.

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