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A smoke alarm is not only a legal requirement in Australia but is also your first line of defence against fire hazards. Having a working smoke alarm in your home is critical to warn residents of the danger and reduce potential fire-related damages.

In this article, we’ll review general guidelines for installing and maintaining residential smoke alarms, so you have the right smoke alarm solutions to keep you and your loved ones safe.

Selecting and Installing Your Smoke Alarms

1. Research Suitable Smoke Alarm Units

Whether replacing old smoke alarms or installing new ones, it is essential to conduct adequate research before selecting the right smoke alarm for your home. A quick look on your preferred search engine will yield various results of the different smoke alarm types, brands, and prices for you to choose from.

Be sure to source your smoke alarm from a reputable home safety or home security systems manufacturer – it may save your life in the long run, even if it is pricier.

2. Locations To Install Your Smoke Alarms

To ensure maximum safety, place a smoke alarm on at least every floor of your home, including the basement and attic. It would be best if you also prioritised having a smoke alarm in each bedroom and outside sleeping areas.

For floors without sleeping areas, place the smoke alarm in central places such as the living room or stairwells. Use a heat alarm for the kitchen instead, as dampness and cooking smoke can regularly set off nuisance (false) smoke alarms.

When determining where to install a smoke alarm in a room, remember that smoke rises towards the ceiling. Therefore, if you place the smoke alarm too low, or the source of the smoke is higher than the alarm, the alarm may be delayed or fail to activate, which can waste valuable time for people to get to safety.

3. Installing Your Smoke Alarms

Now that you’ve selected your smoke alarm model of choice and figured out where to place them, it’s time to begin the installation process. While you can install wireless smoke alarms by yourself, mains-powered smoke alarms should always be installed by a licensed electrician with experience in smoke alarm solutions.

All smoke alarms must be installed per the manufacturer’s recommendations, with the best locations being a flat stretch of wall or the ceiling, preferably in the middle of the room.

If you’re installing a smoke alarm on the wall, ensure that the alarm is within 12 inches (roughly 30cm) of the ceiling itself for the best chance of smoke detection.

Maintaining Your Smoke Alarms

After you’ve installed your smoke alarms, ensure that you test them and ensure everyone in the house understands how they work.

Of course, it doesn’t stop there – you should always conduct regular testing and maintenance on your smoke alarms for maximum safety and peace of mind.

Below is a brief smoke alarm maintenance timeline to ensure your alarms are always in working condition:

Once A Month

Manually test your smoke alarms at least once a month. Press and hold the device’s test button to ensure that it works and that the alarm is audible to everyone in the house.

Every 6 Months

Clean your smoke alarms every 6 months. You can vacuum the exterior of your smoke alarm or use a dry cloth to remove dust from the body.

Removing any dust and pollutants from your smoke alarm can help reduce false alarms and ensure the alarm can detect smoke particles more efficiently.

For a more thorough cleaning (usually done once a year), disconnect the alarm from the power source and remove the outer casing. Afterwards, carefully remove dust from the inside by using a vacuum tool, pressurised air, or a dry cloth. Keep water and liquid products away from the internals, as they can damage the circuitry.

Once you’re done cleaning, always remember to replace the smoke alarm, so you’re not caught unawares during an emergency.

Every Year

Replace the batteries of your smoke alarms at least once a year, even if the low-battery warning isn’t present. Select a day out of the calendar to replace the batteries (such as a national holiday), and ensure you use the manufacturer’s recommended replacement battery.

Better Fire Safety With Proper Smoke Alarm Installation and Maintenance

Smoke alarms are essential to home ownership in Australia, and we hope this guide has helped you install and maintain the smoke alarms in your home. 

In addition to maintaining your smoke alarms, it’s also vital to have a good fire safety plan in case a fire does break out so that everyone in your home knows exactly what they need to do.

For further advice on smoke alarm installation and maintenance, contact your local home fire safety or home security systems specialist for professional help.

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