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Beep, beep, beep…certainly you’ve been annoyed by the incessant chirping of a smoke detector. I also recently attended a gathering of safety-minded folks who allowed the chirping sound of a smoke detector get the best of them. I also must confess that it happened to me not long ago with a house full of my daughter’s friends sleeping over. In my case, the chirping sound simply meant it was time to change the battery (even in a hard wire set up) as the battery serves as a back up. I was ready to call my handyman or buy a new unit, but all it was was a dead battery.

Don’t let a beeping smoke detector get the best of you; here is what you need to do to maintain your system:

  1. Testing: make sure to test your smoke alarm once a month to make sure it is operating. Test the alarm by pressing the test button and listening for the alarm.
  2. Replace the batteries: all batteries should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that you do this at least once a year or when the alarm starts to beep to alert you that the batteries are low. Also, always change the batteries in alarms after moving into a new home.
  3. Cleaning: dust and cobwebs can interfere with a smoke detector’s ability to operate properly. In some cases, debris can make it more difficult for a smoke detector to do its job, while in other cases debris can make a smoke detector too sensitive. Clean smoke detectors according to the manufacturer’s directions, usually with a handheld tool on a vacuum cleaner hose.
  4. Replacement: replace smoke detectors every 10 years.

I found this information very useful, as I didn’t know that smoke detectors require as much maintenance as they do. However, I’d rather be safe and go through the process of keeping my smoke detector up-to-par when it means the wellbeing of my family or friends.

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