Smoke Alarm and Detector FAQ
What type of smoke alarm should I install in my Adelaide home?
There are 2 main types of smoke detectors, the ionisation and photoelectric. Both types of smoke detectors will work however the photoelectric smoke detector is recommended by the MFS. This type of smoke detector is best suited to fires that occur in houses and will give the best early warning.
I’ll take this opportunity to point out that most homes in Adelaide are fitted with the ionisation type as these were previously the recommended type. Another contributing factor is that the photoelectric smoke detector is more costly to purchase than an ionisation type. For this reason we are finding electricians in Adelaide are still fitting ionisation smoke detectors as they deliver the cheapest option for the customer. At Adelaide Electric we ONLY fit photoelectric smoke detectors in your home unless there is a specific requirement for another type of smoke alarm. If you are having a smoke alarm fitted by your electrician in Adelaide, please ask what type of smoke alarm they are fitting and why. Your family’s safety is important.
How do I know what smoke alarm I have?
With the cover of the smoke alarm open there should be a label inside indicate the type of smoke alarm. The other way to tell is that an ionization type smoke alarm will have a yellow and black radiation symbol.
How often should I test my smoke detector?
You should be checking your smoke detector once per month by pressing the test button and waiting for an audible alarm. If there is no alarm, replace the battery and perform the test again. If there is still no alarm then the unit is probably faulty and requires replacement.
How do I maintain my smoke detector?
Maintenance is simple with a clean of the detector with a light brush or vacuum cleaner (soft brush attachment) to keep the sensor area clean of dust and cob webs. This should be performed at least twice per year.
How often should I replace the battery?
Even if the detector’s battery tests okay, the battery should be replaced once per year.
How many smoke alarms do I need?
There is a minimum requirement of 1 working smoke alarm in a house. Please refer to the following 3 points to see which may apply to you;
I purchased my property before February 1, 1998
The minimum requirement is a battery powered smoke alarm. We recommend a mains powered smoke alarm. Through experience battery powered alarms are easily removed, batteries removed or left flat and of no use to detect a house fire and provide the occupants with early warning.
I purchased my property after February 1, 1998
There must be either a mains powered smoke alarm or a 10 year non removable battery smoke alarm fitted to the property.
My house is built after January 1, 1995
A mains powered smoke alarm must be fitted as per the BCA (Building Code of Australia).
Where should the smoke alarm be fitted?
Smoke alarms should be fitted where they give the best early warning for the occupants. In a single story house this may be in a hallway just outside bedrooms. If there are multiple sections of the house with bedrooms or a long hallway then it would be best to fit more than 1 smoke alarm.
My house is double story, do I need another smoke alarm?
Double story houses should have an additional smoke alarm fitted to the ceiling at the top of the stair case. This is in addition to smoke alarms fitted to hallways near bedrooms.
Where shouldn’t smoke alarms be fitted?
There are many factors that should be kept in mind and known by your electrician. There is a minimum distance of 30cm from walls, ceiling junctions and lights. A minimum distance of 100cm needs to be kept from ceiling fans, air conditioner vents and fluorescent lights.
My ceiling has beams can I fit a smoke alarm here?
A smoke alarm can be fitted to the underside of the beam, but not within the area between the beams.
My ceiling is sloped can I fit a smoke alarm?
Yes, smoke alarms can be fitted but it is best fitted a minimum of 50cm from the top apex.
Is there a Standard for smoke detectors?
Yes, smoke detectors must comply with AS 3786 and this must be marked on the packaging.
How do I change the smoke detector battery?
Each brand of smoke detector is a little different. In most cases the detector has a ‘button’ on the side, close to the ceiling, that can be pushed in and allow the cover to drop down. The cover may be on a hinge and hang open. Some detectors are opened by gripping the detector in your hand close to the ceiling and twisting in an anti-clockwise direction to release the cover. Some also slide sideways and un clip from ceiling. Most detectors will have some writing or arrows on the cover to indicate their removal type. Once open the 9V battery will be visible and can be pulled out and replaced.
If your detector is a lithium long life 10 year sealed alarm, there is no serviceable battery and the unit must be replaced if not working or past the 10 year life span.
How do I know how old my smoke detector is?
If you follow the instructions on how to open your smoke alarm for battery replacement there should be a sticker inside revealing either the expiry date or the manufacture date.
What does interconnected smoke alarm mean?
If there is more than 1 smoke alarm fitted and they are mains powered, the electrician can install an extra cable between the units that will allow them to all sound an alarm if only 1 detects a fire. As of May 1, 2014 it became mandatory to provide interconnection if more than 1 alarm is fitted.
What other fire detection can I install?
Multi sensor alarms are able to detect smoke and heat from a fire.
Heat alarms can be installed in kitchens prone to false alarms and also into roof spaces. Keep in mind these are fitted in addition to smoke detectors and not an alternative.
I have hearing impairment, what should I have installed?
Smoke detection with strobe lights and vibrating pads (can be fitted to chairs and beds etc.) can be installed.
So you may ask what I’ve done to my Adelaide home as an electrician.
I have mains powered with battery backup smoke detectors fitted to the hallway outside one bedroom and another smoke detector fitted to another section of the hallway adjacent another 2 bedrooms. The reason for this is a change in ceiling height that would delay smoke reaching one area and thus an early warning. In addition each bedroom has mains powered battery backup smoke detectors. The benefit here is that if a fire was to break out in a bedroom with the door closed the smoke detector inside will alert occupants well before one outside the room would be able to. I’ve also fitted 10 year life lithium battery smoke detectors to lounge rooms as there is no longer access into these roof spaces to fit mains powered smoke detectors.
Your Adelaide Electrician should be up to date and knowledgeable with fire safety and smoke detection. We aim to keep our knowledge up to date and lead by example for your safety.