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Posted on October 10, 2012

Getting the Most Out of Your Fire Alarms

Next to a home fire sprinkler system, your fire alarms are some of the most important things you can have to keep your family safe from disaster. But fire alarms can only help you if you know what you’re doing with them – where, how and how many you install will make a big difference in your family’s protection!

Where to Install Fire Alarms

Since smoke rises, fire alarms should be mounted as high as possible – up on walls or ceilings preferably. Ceiling-mounted fire alarms should be installed at least 4 inches away from the nearest wall. Wall-mounted fire alarms should be installed no more than 12 inches away from the ceiling.

If you’re installing your fire alarms near the kitchen or bathroom, make sure they’re placed away from the path of steam and cooking vapors. Otherwise, every shower or meal cooked on the stove could set off a false alarm!

Don’t install fire alarms near windows, doors or ducts where air is constantly blowing by.

Make Sure Your Fire Alarms Work

Make sure you have at least one fire alarm on every floor of your house, especially where people sleep (this includes the basement!). If possible, put one in every bedroom.

Test your fire alarms once a month by pushing the TEST button until you hear the tone.

Replace your fire alarm batteries twice a year, when you change the clocks for daylight saving time. Also replace the batteries if your alarm is making a “chirping” sound – this indicates that the battery is low.

Replace your fire alarms every 10 years.

How to Choose Fire Alarms

Install enough to cover every level of your home and, if possible, every bedroom.

Try to install “interconnected” fire alarms, which all go off at once when one starts alarming, helping you hear them better and get to safety faster.

Make sure your fire alarms are ETL, UL or CSA certified so you know they are safe.

Different Types of Fire Alarms

Ionization fire alarms – ionization fire alarms measure changes in electrical currents caused by tiny charged particles in the air. Using a harmless source of radioactivity, they ionize the air within the detector, allowing a small electric current to pass through. Smoke particles enter the detector and disrupt the flow of electric current. If the air flow drops below a certain level, an alarm triggers. Ionization fire alarms are highly effective against smoky fires and, since they run on normal batteries, they can be installed anywhere and will work in the event of a power outage.

Ionization fire alarms are typically not effective against thinner smoke from smoldering fires.

Photoelectric fire alarms – photoelectric fire alarms use a small lamp to shoot a beam of light across the detection chamber. Next to the light source but hidden from direct exposure to the beam is a light-sensitive photocell. When smoke enters the detection chamber, it causes the light beam to scatter and move in all directions, with some light hitting the cell.

Photoelectric fire alarms react well to smoldering fires, but are not as effective against flaming fires.

For more fire alarm tips, or to install fire alarms in Houston, TX, call Kauffman Co. today!

We provide estimates for new and replacement fire protection systems throughout Texas (TX) in:

  • Alvin
  • Angleton
  • Austin
  • Baytown
  • Beaumont
  • Bellaire
  • Clute
  • Conroe
  • Deer Park
  • Dickinson
  • Freeport
  • Friendswood
  • Galena Park
  • Galveston
  • Houston
  • Humble
  • Huntsville
  • Jacinto City
  • Katy
  • La Marque
  • La Porte
  • Lake Charles, LA
  • Lake Jackson
  • League City
  • Missouri City
  • Orange
  • Pasadena
  • Pearland
  • Port Arthur
  • Richmond
  • Rosenberg
  • San Antonio
  • Schulenburg
  • South Houston
  • Stafford
  • Sugar Land
  • Texas City
  • The Woodlands
  • Victoria
  • Waco
For more information, contact us online or call us now at (713) 893-1090.
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