Did you know that smoke alarms are only good for 10 years then you have to get new ones?

Here is why alarms are only good for 10 years;

  • 10 years of dust and dirt have accumulated inside your smoke detector.
  • Even if your smoke detector has never sounded, it has performed over 3.5 million “air sensing” cycles over 10 years.
  • The most common type of smoke alarm (ionization) utilizes a radioactive substance that breaks down which can make your alarm less sensitive to smoke.
  • Photoelectric smoke detectors use a beam of light to detect smoke which also loses its effectiveness over time.
It is also extremely important to test your smoke detectors monthly to make sure that are in working order.  Un-tested detectors are half as dependable as tested ones.  To test your detectors do the following: 
  • Hold the test button in on the alarm until it beeps.  Do this once a month to all alarms.
  • If the alarm fails to sound, replace the battery to see if that remedies the problem.
  • NEVER use real smoke to test an alarm such as cigarette smoke or smoke from a match or candle.  Smoke contains carbon which can deposit inside your smoke detector essentially making it “dirty” inside.
  • Replace any alarms that fail to sound immediately if they are found to be faulty.
  • When replacing alarms, make sure both smoke alarm sensing technologies (Ionization and Photoelectric) are present in your home.

Facts & figures

  • Ninety-six percent of all homes have at least one smoke alarm, according to a 2010 telephone survey. Overall, three-quarters of all U.S. homes have at least one working smoke alarm.
  • Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths in 2005-2009 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
  • When smoke alarms fail to operate, it is usually because batteries are missing, disconnected or dead.  Almost one-quarter of the smoke alarm failures was due to dead batteries.
Installation and maintenance tips:
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, making sure that there is an alarm outside every separate sleeping area. New homes are required to have a smoke alarm in every sleeping room and all smoke alarms must be interconnected.
  • Hard-wired smoke alarms operate on your household electrical current. They can be interconnected so that every alarm sounds regardless of the fire's location. This is an advantage in early warning, because it gives occupants extra time to escape if they are in one part of the home and a fire breaks out in another part. Alarms that are hard-wired should have battery backups in case of a power outage, and should be installed by a qualified electrician.
  • If you sleep with bedroom doors closed, have a qualified electrician install interconnected smoke alarms in each room so that when one alarm sounds, they all sound.
  • If you, or someone in your home is deaf or hard of hearing, consider installing an alarm that combines flashing lights, vibration and/or sound.
  • Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Ceiling mounted alarms should be installed at least four inches away from the nearest wall; wall-mounted alarms should be installed four to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
  • If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm near the ceiling's highest point.
  • Don't install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
  • Never paint smoke alarms. Paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the alarms from working.
The Wausau Fire Department has a limited number of smoke detectors available at no cost to City of Wausau homeowners.  You must meet certain qualifications.  Please call 715-261-7900 or stop in at Central Station, 606 E. Thomas Street for more information.