Maintaining battery-powered smoke detectors
Every year, people who have battery-powered smoke detectors in their homes are put at risk because the batteries die and nobody bothers to replace them. I think it’s because the detectors have to be mounted high in the room, so you typically need a ladder or a stepstool to reach them.
Here’s a location that is both high and accessible: the hatch cover to a pull-down attic stair. To change the battery or check its operation, simply pull on the stair’s rope. Now the detector is right at eye level.
Joseph Guarino, via email, None
Nice idea, but code requires a smoke detector in every bedroom. Ideally, you should change the batteries in all detectors at the same time.
First of all we should be talking about a smoke alarm. A smoke detector is connected to a fire alarm system whereas a smoke alarm is a stand alone device and has an audible alarm. Normally we do not have a fire alarm system in a house. A smoke alarm is an approved and tested device and shall be installed, located and maintained in accordance with the manufactures installation instructions. The National Building Code of Canada requires a smoke alarm in each sleeping room and in the hallway adjacent to the sleeping rooms. The smoke alarms shall be interconnected.
The bottom line is you have to install smoke alarms in accordance with local by-laws or codes. It is very important life safety issue that smoke alarms be installed and maintained properly.
Wow smoke alarms or smoke detectors, gold star for splitting hairs... I'm sure the terminology varies from region to region. Real easy solution to this problem. Hardwire your devices and test them regularly.
In the US we have the same requirements stated by bmetruk. In my house, that results in four smoke alarms within a 7 ft radius. When the house was in electrical inspection the inspector pushed the test button on one of the alarms. All four went off simultaneously and he put his hand over his ears and ran out of the house until it stopped. Talk about overkill.
The reason for installing one in each room is to detect the smoke. If the doors from the bedrooms to the hall are closed you would have to wait for enough smoke to seep through the door opening to set off an adjacent alarm. This would delay setting off the alarm by enough time for someone to be overcome by smoke in the room where the fire started before the detector in the adjacent room goes off.
As both a professional Firefighter/Paramedic and a long time carpenter I will say that no matter how you settle this,more lives are saved everyday by working smoke alarms than any other single factor in home fires. I've seen people come out when no one should have made it out.
Put them in and accept that they can be very irritating at times. But keep them functioning please.
As I like to say, "Don't die just because your smoke alarm battery did."
Ideally, testing these monthly (most have buttons just for that) will both keep awareness and discover when batts die early. And then changing the batts at least yearly (write it in the house calendar!).
If the smoke detector is hardwired, mounting it on a stair that is pulled down ends up creating a fire hazard. Your solution would only be ok if you are using battery powered units only.