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Blog Home Safety Types Of Smoke Alarms: What You Need To Know
Types Of Smoke Alarms: What You Need To Know
Home Safety
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One of the tasks performed by a home inspector is to determine if smoke alarms are placed in the home correctly and to test to ensure that they are functioning properly. These test does not include a smoke test, only a test to ensure that the alarm does sound when the test button is pressed. Actual smoke testing can be done by the homeowner, but exercise caution if you decide to test the smoke alarm in this manner.
Ionization or photoelectric sensors are used in the two main types of smoke alarms. Some models will include both of these. In addition to smoke detection, and heat detection sensor may also be included. This would serve as additional protection should the smoke sensor fail to do its job. If heat detection is important to you, shop for a model that offers this feature.
Ionization detectors will contain a small chamber that holds two plates that keep a small electrical current going between them at all times. Once smoke enters this chamber, it will interrupt the electrical current and cause the alarm to sound. Photoelectric detectors make use of light instead of an electrical current. A light beam produces light that is sent to a receptor. When this light is disturbed or altered by smoke, the alarm will sound.

Know Your Smoke Alarm

Both types of smoke alarms work well in detecting smoke and warning occupants to flee the residence. However, each may perform differently when exposed to a different type of fire. For example, photoelectric detectors will respond better to a smoldering fire, while ionization detectors work better when flames and combustion particles are near. For this reason, combination, or dual smoke alarms may be the best choice for homeowners.

Smoke Alarm Basics

Smoke alarms do save lives and should be in place in every home and especially in sleeping rooms. Should you have the type that are hardwired into the electrical system of the home, consider having at least one battery operated model as well. Electrical systems may fail due to fire and cause the alarm not to sound. In battery operated models, check the alarm every few months to ensure that the batteries are still working. Should the batteries go dead, the alarm will simply not do the job it was intended to do if a fire breaks out in your home.

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Darin Redding
Written on Thursday, 03 March 2011 13:00 by Darin Redding

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Last Updated on Friday, 18 May 2012 23:10

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