How long do smoke alarms last and what are the installation, maintenance, testing and replacement requirements?

  • Installation
    The National Fire Protection Association recommends installing smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, making sure that there is an alarm outside every separate sleeping area. New homes are required to have a smoke alarm in every sleeping room and all smoke alarms must be interconnected.
  • Maintenance
    Regular cleaning of smoke alarms can prevent false alarms caused by the buildup of dust or other contamination such as flies. Photoelectric (optical) type alarms are more susceptible to contamination due to possible interference with the light source and sensor. A vacuum cleaner can be used to clean both ionization and photoelectric alarms externally and internally.
  • Testing
    Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
  • Replacement
    Smoke alarms become less reliable with time, primarily due to aging of their electronic components, as well as from dust and contamination, making them susceptible to nuisance false alarms. Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use long-life 10 year non-replaceable batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 years old, or sooner if they do not respond properly when tested.