Replace CO & Smoke Alarm Batteries for Daylight Saving Time
It’s Daylight Saving Time again and this Sunday (every second Sunday of March), we’ll be losing an hour of sleep and asking each other, “What time is it?!”
You’re already aware that you’ll need to walk through the house to change all of the clocks (set them forward 1 hour), but did you know that Daylight Saving Time (DST) is about more than just, well, time?
It’s also a critical home safety day. According to institutions such as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the National Fire Protection Association, DST is also the day to replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
After changing the clocks to make sure your life is synced, it’s time to change the batteries and perform a routine test of your smoke and CO alarms to ensure that your home’s most valuable safety devices are functioning properly.
Daylight Saving Time = Change Your Smoke and CO Alarm Batteries
1. Replace batteries
The batteries in your smoke and CO alarms will most likely last for about a year. However, it’s recommended that you change the batteries at least once a year, specifically during Daylight Saving Time. DST serves as a useful reminder and a convenient way to conquer your home device tasks in one go.
By changing your batteries before you begin to hear the chirp, chirp of a failing alarm, you will avoid the headache as well as the risk of living under a roof without functioning devices.
How to replace the batteries in your smoke alarm:
• Open up the battery compartment – Open the battery compartment without removing the unit from the wall or ceiling. Slide the cover away from the mounting so as to expose where to put in the new batteries. This usually takes a simple twisting motion of the top of the detector away from its base on the wall. Other smoke alarms have a simple door on the side of the unit that opens to reveal the battery slot.
• Type of battery – Figure out the type of battery and replace it with the same kind. Most alarms require a 9V battery. Use a high-quality brand battery (preferably lithium) that matches the existing battery in your device.
• Replace the batteries – Find where the batteries are located and be sure to put in the batteries correctly, following the instructions in your owner’s manual. Match the terminals: “+” to “+” and “-” to “-“. If the battery door won’t close, don’t force it. Some battery doors won’t close if there is no battery, or if the battery has been improperly installed. Once the battery compartment clicks or snaps shut, you should test the device to make sure it works.
If your alarms are hardwired and not battery-powered, you will still need to test monthly to ensure that the parts are functioning properly.
2. Perform a Test
To be sure that you just installed the new batteries correctly, perform a routine test of the devices. There will be a “test” button located on each device.
Once you find the button, hold it down. Sometimes you are required to hold it down for up to 10 seconds. Check the manufacturer’s instructions (if you lost your manual, you can usually find one online).
Hold the button down until you hear a loud, high-pitched sound. This is your indication that everything is functioning properly. Good job!
If the sound is weak and doesn’t cause you to jerk back with “alarm,” try replacing the batteries (use the best batteries you can). If that doesn’t fix the issue, replace the entire unit.
According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), there are three practices that need to be put on the calendar regarding your smoke and co alarms:
- 1. TEST smoke alarms every month by pressing the “test” button.
- 2. REPLACE smoke alarm batteries at least once per year or sooner if the alarm beeps or chirps.
- 3. PRACTICE your fire escape plan twice per year.
Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International
To download the Smoke Alarm Maintenance Calendar for yourself, click here.
3. Smoke Alarm Safety Tips
- Install a smoke alarm in each bedroom and outside each sleeping area.
- Make sure there is a smoke alarm on each level of your home, including the basement.
- Place smoke detectors on the ceiling or high on the wall.
- Don’t place a smoke detector within 10 feet of the stove.
- It’s highly recommended that you have interconnected smoke alarms, especially in larger homes, so that the whole household knows if any one alarm goes off.
- Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to sound during flaming fires while photoelectric alarms are quicker to detect smoldering fires. It’s recommended you have both types in the home.
- There are special smoke alarms for the hearing impaired, which usually include strobe lights and bed shakers.
- Push the “test” button on each smoke alarm every month (30 days) to make sure it’s working.
- If the smoke alarm goes off, have your entire household evacuate and once safely outside, call the fire department.
According to census data, homes are more likely to have working smoke alarms than working carbon monoxide alarms. This is very alarming considering that CO detectors are our only way to detect the lethal gas.
While smoke and fire are visible dangers, carbon monoxide (a.k.a. the invisible killer) is a colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas that has the lethal potential. Home generators, idling cars, and heating systems are the main culprits. That’s why it’s important to never leave any engine running in an enclosed space and to schedule professional generator and heating maintenance every year.
If you don’t have working carbon monoxide detectors, get some as soon as possible. Just like smoke alarms, CO alarms should be tested every month and batteries should be replaced at least once a year.
Speak with your HVAC technician about interconnected, hardwired, low-level CO monitors, and combination smoke/CO alarms.
For more information on home safety, contact the professionals at Pacific Heating Cooling. We provide expert HVAC service, including smoke/CO alarm inspections and replacements, for the Lakewood-Tacoma, WA area.