Kidde has a new recall on some models of their dual sensor smoke alarms. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a press release with the details.
Alarm Models Affected: PI2010 and PI9010
Dates of Manufacture: 10 SEP 2016 to 13 OCT 2017
Kidde has a website dedicate to the recall with directions on how to check your smoke alarm.
Is your smoke alarm more than 10 years old? Time to replace and while you are at it, I recommend you upgrade your smoke alarm to dual sensor models that have both ionization and photoelectric capabilities. Read on below for step by step instructions on how to replace an existing hardwired smoke alarm in your home.
These directions are specific to to replacing a hardwired (connected to household AC current) and interconnected smoke detectors. If you don't feel comfortable working with electrical wires consider having a qualified party do this work.
1. Turn off the circuit breaker controlling the circuit for your fire alarm.
2. Remove the existing smoke alarm from the ceiling bracket.
3. Test at the smoke alarm wire pigtail to ensure that the power is off.
Step 4: Remove the pigtail wires from the back of the smoke alarm.
Step 5: Loosen the screws holding the existing bracket to the ceiling junction box. Remove the bracket.
Step 6: Pull the existing wires out of the junction box. There should be a black wire, white wire and a red wire in the box. The pigtail connection to the alarm will have a black wire, white wire and either a red or orange wire. Remove the wire nuts and separate the old pigtail from the ceiling wiring.
Step 7: Match up the pigtail connector wiring to the existing house wires. Black attaches to black. White to white wire and Red or orange to red.
Step 8: Make a connection between the pigtail wires and the house wires using a wire nut. Make sure that the wire colors match.
Step 9: Tuck the house wires and connections back in to the junction box.
Step 10: Thread the pigtail connection through the ceiling bracket.
Step 11: Secure the new ceiling bracket to the junction box and ceiling by replacing and tightening the screws that were loosened in step 5.
Step 12: This step is optional but highly recommended. Write the date of installation for both the battery and smoke alarm prior to installing in the bracket. This will make it easy in the future to know when the battery and alarm need to be replaced.
Step 13: Connect the pigtail adapter to the back of the smoke alarm.
Step 14: Gently place the pigtail in to the junction box while seating the smoke alarm body.
Step 15: Seat the alarm body in the bracket. Twist to seat. You may have a ribbon to pull to activate the alarm. Pull gently and steadily to remove the ribbon and activate the alarm.
Step 16: Cover your ears and push the test button to make sure that the new alarm works.
What kind of smoke alarm is in your house? Odds are is that your current alarm is an ionization type. How old is your alarm? If your house is over 10 years old it's likely that your alarm is past the recommended replacement date. This post shows you how to check what type and how old your smoke alarm is.
Step 1: Find a smoke alarm. There should be one on every floor of your home and inside every bedroom.
Step 2: Remove the working part of the alarm from the base plate. Generally this is accomplished by twisting the alarm body counterclockwise until it releases. If you have a hardwired system (all the alarms are interconnected) be careful of the wire connections inside the junction box.
Step 3: Look at the information plate on the rear of the alarm body. You are looking for a date of manufacture and a statement warning of the presence of Americium 241. The date of manufacture will tell you how old the alarm is. If over 10 years old, it is recommended to replace it. If the alarm contains Americium 241 it has an ionization sensor and is best at detecting flaming type of fires. It is possible that it is a dual unit but likely that it is a single sensor system. Dual type units usually have that information printed on the front.
Step 4: Replace the alarm body in the baseplate with a clockwise motion.
Step 5: If your alarm is over 10 years old, plan on heading to the local big box store to look at replacements. It is helpful to note the brand and model of your current smoke alarm to aid in finding the correct replacement model.
Photoelectric smoke alarms are not as common in modern construction. They work on a different principle than the more common ionization alarms (see infographic below). Photoelectric alarms are better suited to detecting smoldering type of fires in a home.
Just like the post last week on ionization alarms, the takeaway for a homeowner is to consider a dual type of alarm instead of relying on just one method to detect fires in the home. You don't get to choose the type of fire that may affect your home. Dual type smoke alarms that combine both ionization and photoelectric sensors are the best choice for any alarms you are considering replacing or upgrading.
Ionization smoke alarms are very common in the US. It's likely that the current smoke alarms in your house fall in to this category. These type of alarms rely on a tiny amount of a radioactive substance called Americium 241 to help detect smoke particles in the air (see the infographic below for details).
Ionization smoke alarms are best at detecting a flaming type of fire. They do not work as well as detecting a smoldering fire in the house. An ionization smoke alarm does provide a warning for fires it can detect it may not be the best choice to cover all potential types of house fires. A better option is a dual function smoke alarm - one that has both ionization and photoelectric sensors. Look for a post next week that explores photoelectric type alarms.
Good video embedded below about the basics of home smoke alarms. Great information from the National Fire Protection Agency. If you are planning on upgrading your smoke alarms keep the recommendation of a combo unit that includes both photoelectric and ionization detection of fires in the home.
Smoke alarms - out of sight and out of mind until the battery goes bad. The only time most people think about them are when you are trying to figure out which alarm is chirping incessantly.
Do you have the right number in your house and in the correct locations? Smoke alarms are required on every floor of a home, outside each separate sleeping area and inside every bedroom. Interconnected alarms are the best - they can alert you to a problem in a different part of the home.
Batteries in smoke alarms need to be replaced yearly. Smoke alarms should be tested monthly to ensure proper operation. Smoke alarms have a useful life of about 10 years before they need replacement. This may seem like a daunting task but most are designed to be easy swapped out. Look for a post in the next few weeks about inspecting and replacing a common type of smoke alarm in houses built in the early 2000's.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.