How old are your Smoke Detectors?

Which Birthday will your Smoke Detectors be celebrating this year?

Are your Smoke Detectors still looking gleaming white?

If they are beginning to take on that yellowing plastic look, it may be that they are approaching, or possibly have already celebrated, their 10th Birthday without you even noticing.

I know, I know, another one of those things that you need to check. There seem to be so many these days.

Anyway, back to the Smoke Detectors….

Generally Smoke & Heat Detectors are regarded as a “Good thing.”

You may not feel quite so well-disposed towards them when they start chirruping at you at 3 o’clock in the morning to tell you that their back-up battery is flat, but when they are just getting on with their job, they’re definitely a good thing.

In fact they’re such a good thing, that we electricians are required to install them a lot more often these days.

Very importantly, Landlords are required to make sure that they are installed and working properly in their rental properties.

This is probably something to do with the fact that they save lives.

Inter-connected Smoke Detectors

Nowadays, we encourage people to install inter-connected mains-operated detectors with a back-up battery.

Inter-connected means that if one detector is activated, the rest of them all join in and make sure that there’s absolutely no way that you can sleep through the issue.

Mains-operated means that they aren’t going to stop working, just because the battery has gone flat, or you’ve removed the battery in a rage in the middle of the night, and forgotten to put it back.

Why replace Smoke detectors?

Unfortunately, like a lot of good things, Smoke Detectors have a shelf life. In the case of Smoke & Heat Detectors, this is about 10 years, but can be as low as 7 years. They should have a date of manufacture and Expiry Date somewhere nice and visible.

It may be time to get a step ladder out just to check.

If the expiry date is in the past, then it’s time to replace your Smoke & Heat Detectors.

Many of the quality makes of Smoke & Heat Detectors allow you to retro-fit with very little effort.

Basically you can leave the base connected in the ceiling, so don’t have to touch the wiring, then slide or twist the detector off the base, and replace it with a new one.

Job done! No electrician required.


Why are there different types of Detector?

It can be a bit confusing, but here’s a quick summary….

Heat Detectors

Heat Detectors are designed to go in your Kitchen, Garage, or dusty areas. As the name suggests, they wil be triggered by an increase in heat, approx 55 degrees. They are not going to be set off by you burning the toast, or your Sunday Roast. They are less susceptible to dust than Optical and Ionisation Smoke Detectors.

Ionisation Smoke Detectors

Ionisation Smoke Detectors are the old style smoke detectors. They are being phased out and replaced by Optical Smoke Detectors. They are most sensitive, and are a bit more prone to false alarms.

Optical Smoke Detectors

Optical Smoke detectors  are replacing the old Ionisation Smoke Detectors.

Ideally they should be installed in Bedrooms, Hallways, Living spaces (except Kitchens).

They will detect smouldering smoke, but are sensitive to dust, so if you need to install a detector in a dusty area, then you should use a Heat Detector instead.

Replacing old Smoke Detectors

Some makes and models of smoke detector have stopped being manufactured. This can be annoying  if you want to leave the base in position and just replace the detector itself, without calling in an electrician.
Safelincs have a useful guide to compatible makes and models on their website.
Not all makes and models are replaceable, but some are, so its worth checking, just in case. It could save you some money.

Upgrading yor Smoke Detectors

If you need to upgrade your Mains-operated Smoke detectors, you will need to call an electrician in. 

We often fit AICO Detectors, because AICO make it easy for customers to retrofit detectors in the future.  They also make it easier to add additional Detectors in areas where it would be awkward or expensive to run new wiring.

Basically they allow you to create hybrid systems with mains and battery-operated detectors talking to each other.

They also have a range of Smart Detectors for those of us who like our doorbells and washing machines to chat to us on our mobile phones while we’re away from home. An exciting world of conversations with your smoke detectors awaits you, if you decide to go down that route.

Anyway, back to the point. Please check your Smoke Detectors and make sure that they are still in date. If they aren’t, please do something about it. Don’t leave it until it’s too late.

At the risk of sounding a bit doom laden, anyone who charges a battery in their home, particularly a larger battery for a bike or scooter, has the potential for an issue, so please…