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Posted on January 25, 2013

How to Test Your Fire Alarms

Even if you don’t have a residential fire sprinkler system in your home yet, you will have fire alarms. Fire alarms are often your first notification of a fire and will help you and your family get out of the house quickly and safely. But if you were to look at your fire alarm right now, would you be sure it works? Fire alarms (hopefully) don’t go off very often and if you haven’t used yours in a while, there’s a chance that it may not go off when it’s supposed to!

This is why it’s important to test your fire alarms every six months–typically each time you set your clocks for Daylight Saving Time. The sound will be annoying, but it will only last a few seconds—seconds that could save your life someday!

How to Test a Fire Alarm

  • First, alert everyone in your home that you are about to test it (unless you also want to practice a fire drill).
  • Next, have someone go to the farthest part of the house away from the fire alarm to determine whether the alarm can be clearly heard at that distance. Remember: the fire alarm has to be loud enough to wake up the deepest sleeper wherever they are, so if you can’t hear the alarm somewhere in the house, call for fire alarm repair.
  • Push and hold the fire alarm test button for a few seconds until it produces a loud noise. Cover your ears!
  • To make sure your fire alarm will work during a fire, find a small can of smoke detector test aerosol, which you should be able to find at a well-stocked hardware store or online. Spray some of the test material into the detector and wait five to 10 seconds for a response. If the alarm sounds, you know your alarm is working properly. If not, replace the batteries or call a fire protection company for fire alarm repair!
  • Remember—you want a full-on alarm, not just beeps!
  • To turn off the detector at this point, use a handheld vacuum cleaner or a vacuum cleaner extension hose to suck out the test material. If you have a newer fire alarm, it may even have a silence button that will turn the alarm off until the residue from the test spray wears off.

Fire Alarm Tips

Never decorate any part of your smoke alarm with paint, stickers, hanging objects, etc.—this can prevent them from working properly.

A few times every year, use a vacuum cleaner to gently remove dust from the slots in the fire alarm cover. Dust in these slots can block smoke and interfere with early detection of a fire.

Fire alarms only last about 10 years. If you’ve had yours for longer, it may be time to replace it with a new one.

If you move into a home with existing smoke detectors and you don’t know how old they are, check the label on the back of the devices. This label should display the date of manufacture, which you can use to calculate the device’s age. If you can’t find the date of manufacture, you should call for fire alarm replacement.

Cover your ears when you test your fire alarms! Ear plugs are your best friend here—remember, fire alarms are extremely loud and you’ll be standing right under them.

Fire Alarm Warnings

Your fire alarm is just a signaling device–unlike a fire sprinkler system, it won’t extinguish the fire. To be as safe as possible, you need to have a thorough fire safety plan.

No fire alarm will sound instantly, so when it does go off, it means the fire has already started and may have spread. As soon as the fire alarm goes off, get out of the house as soon as possible!

Only use the aerosol spray can to test your fire alarm—never use a real flame. Similarly, never use any type of aerosol spray aside from those specifically made for fire alarm testing, as others may damage the smoke sensors.

If you don’t have a fire sprinkler system in your home, your fire alarms may be the only things keeping you safe from dangerous fires. If you need fire alarm testing or replacement 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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