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.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.