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Mains wired smoke detectors

Is your smoke detector over 10 years old?  Did you know that even mains-wired smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years?

Research into their longevity has concluded that mains wired as well as battery-operated devices should be replaced every 10 years, or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.

The manufacturing industry also recommends that smoke detector heads should be replaced every decade.

Countless homes are being protected by smoke detectors that are more than 10 years old, with misguided faith in mains-wired detectors being a particular concern.

Smoke detectors save lives – they detect fires in their early stages and give a loud audible warning and they help you to save your home and the lives of your family. But simply having smoke detectors in your home is not enough – you must be sure that they are working.

People are generally aware that battery-operated smoke detectors need to be replaced every 10 years, but they seem to think that mains-wired alarms will last forever. Yet they use the same technology and so have the same shelf life.

Building Regulations for newly built homes changed in 1992, which ensured that mains-wired smoke detectors were fitted in all new properties, therefore we are urging residents living in homes built between 1992 and 2008 to have their mains-wired smoke detectors checked and replaced.  However, there are properties that were built before this period fitted with mains-wired systems too; do you know when your detectors were last replaced?

Some of these homes have smoke detectors that are now nearly 30 years old and desperately need replacing. With contaminants such as dust, insects, grease and nicotine, over time the smoke detector chamber is susceptible to becoming excessively sensitive or insensitive. This may lead to either an increase in nuisance false alarms, or to it eventually becoming unable to detect smoke.

Similarly, as smoke detectors get older, faults are more likely to occur.  Corrosion of electrical circuitry and disconnected power supply is another possible problem with mains-wired detectors.

Smoke detectors should be tested regularly, but the tests may not be reliable with old systems. You may get a bleep when you press the test button, but this may give a false impression of fully functioning alarm.

The only way to be sure that a smoke detector over 10 years old will work properly when you need it to is to have its smoke detector head replaced. This needs to be done by a qualified electrician, preferably with experience installing mains-wired detectors. A small price to pay for knowing that the alarm will alert you and your family should a potentially life-threatening fire start in your home.



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