A smoke alarm that is properly installed and maintained can very well save your life and those of loved ones in your home. Smoke alarms serve as early warning signals at the onset of a fire. They are designed to alert you and your loved ones about a fire and provide you with as much time as possible to escape before the fire spreads. Homes without smoke detectors, or with detectors that have faulty or dead batteries, are one of the main reasons people get trapped in fires. Many prefer to play it safe with a hard-wired system that also comes with a battery backup, available for less than $20 per unit.
Hard-wired smoke alarms are wired into your home's electrical system. Many people prefer them to battery-powered models because a home's electrical system is more reliable in terms of ensuring the smoke detectors work than a system that operates solely on batteries. Most manufacturers today sell hard-wired systems that come with a battery backup system. This battery backup system ensures that the smoke detectors work in the event of a power failure.
If your hard-wired smoke detector has a battery backup, it is important to replace the batteries at least once a year with new ones. This is the only way to ensure the backup system will work in the event of a power failure.
Check your hard-wired smoke detector system at least once every month to ensure it and the batteries are in proper working order. It may be helpful to put a reminder on your calendar.
Hard-wired systems should be replaced every eight to 10 years whether they have a battery backup or not. It it is not already listed by the manufacturer, consider writing the purchase date on the inside of your alarm unit to remind you of when it is time to replace it.
Hard-wired smoke detector systems should only be replaced or installed by a qualified electrician who is familiar with residential electrical wiring codes. The battery installation is easy to handle on your own provided you are comfortable standing on a ladder.
Based in Charlotte, N.C., Virginia Franco has more than 15 years experience freelance writing. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the education magazine "My School Rocks" and Work.com. Franco has a master's degree in social work with an emphasis in health care from the University of Maryland and a journalism degree from the University of Richmond.