Fire Safety – Replacing Smoke Detectors
Last week was Fire Prevention Week. I hoped to post about Replacing Smoke Detectors then. However, my husband was out of town that week. We only changed our smoke detectors this weekend.
Replacing smoke detector batteries with the time change is a well-known practice. And if you forget, modern units chirp when the battery dies. But, did you know that smoke detectors have a 10 year life? After 10 years, they need replacement.
A couple of years ago a house in our neighborhood had a fire. At that point, the fire department shared that the smoke detectors failed in the house. They were over 10 years old. Our house was less than 10 years old at the time. Even so, once our house hit 10 years old, smoke detector replacement was a back burner project.
Then in late August and early September our house filled with smoke after two separate cooking incidents. In the first incident, I heated canola oil past it’s smoke point. The second time, a previous overflow of sugary syrup began to smoke in the oven. Despite the smoke, our smoke alarms stayed silent. Obviously their replacement was no longer a back burner issue.
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Smoke Detector Background
There are two installation methods for smoke detectors: hard-wired or battery operated. The hard-wired detectors sound all the alarms in the house when one detects smoke, while the battery detectors are typically not-connected (Select battery operated detectors now have an interface option). Our house has hard-wired smoke detectors since it is relatively new. Smoke detectors are available in combination with carbon monoxide detectors or standalone. There are also two different types of smoke detectors.
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My husband and I debated between combination Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Detectors and just smoke Smoke Detectors with Carbon Monoxide detectors in the bedroom. We decided to put combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in our occupied bedrooms and on the first floor. We installed regular smoke detectors in the other locations. Carbon monoxide detectors cannot be installed in close proximity to a fuel burning appliance or near a humidity source (i.e. a shower). This ruled out installation in a few locations in our house.
Our Replacement Solution
The hard-wired smoke detectors are installed with a plug on the wires to allow the smoke detectors snap easily in and out. The easiest way to install smoke detectors is to replace them with the same brand using the same plug configuration so that the electronics do not need to be rewired.
Unfortunately, our old smoke detectors are the FireX brand which are now manufactured by Kidde. The new units have a different plug configuration than our previous detectors. Fortunately, I found Kidde KA-B, KA-F Universal Smoke Alarm Adapters that converted our existing plug to the new Kidde configuration. A few dollars per adapter was much better than the effort to rewire all of our smoke detectors.
We initially ordered one Kidde KN-COPE-I AC Wire-in Combo CO/Photo Smoke Alarm and one Kidde KA-B, KA-F Universal Smoke Alarm Adapters. We started with one so that we knew the conversion kit worked. The first unit we replaced was the smoke detector on our first floor. We used a combination CO/Smoke Detector unit. Installation with the adapter was very quick and easy. We then bought additional units (2 more combination units and 4 standalone smoke detectors). Finally, we replaced our remaining original smoke detectors. I also marked my calendar for September 2024 for replacement.
Replacing Smoke Detectors
Did you know that smoke detectors expire? Are your smoke detectors expired? We found dates of manufacture on the bottom of ours. Simply pull them down and check the date.
Disposing of Old Smoke Detectors
Part of replacing smoke detectors is properly disposing of them. Washtenaw County’s Household Toxin Reduction Program offers collection of Hazardous Household Waste. Smoke Detectors are on the list of what they accept. I wish I knew about this program when we disposed of ours (in the trash). In addition to smoke detectors, they accept a number of flammable liquids. Safely disposing of these liquids also helps you reduce the risk of fire.