Spring Forward And Smoke Detectors: What a Combination!

Spring Forward ~ it is Day Light Savings Time.  For many of us it is a great time of the year.  The day light will be getting longer, which means more time to be spent outside doing the things we love.  This is also a great time of the year to remind everyone to check the smoke detectors.

Many of you might have known I was a volunteer fire fighter for about 15 years.  I also have a Bachelor degree along with several Associates and a Certificate, all in Fire Science.  This is something that fascinates me.  What does not excite me, is when I hear about a house fire where there were no working smoke detectors.

Ionization type detector

Ionization type detector

These devices are made to help save lives by detecting smoke.  There are two types of detectors:  Ionization, and photoelectric.  Each of these detects smoke and fire in a different way.  Ionization type smoke detectors have a chamber and when smoke fills the chamber, it interrupts the ionization hence sounding the detector.  These type of detectors are generally good at detecting fires with flames.  Photoelectric type detectors have a light projected into the alarm chamber.  When smoke, such as that from a smoldering fire, enters the chamber, it disrupts the light flow, causing the detector to sound.  There is a third type of detector.  It is known as a heat detector, and just as its name suggests, it detects the increase of heat, but NOT the presence of smoke.

So what is the best type of smoke detector photoelectric or ionization?  Answer:  BOTH.  Having a smoke detector with both types of systems is recommended.  As stated before, each detects differently and you never know what type of fire might be started.  Either a smoldering or one with lots of flames.

Photoelectric type detector

Photoelectric type detector

Most detectors are powered by either electricity with battery backup, or battery only.  Changing the batteries often, keeps fresh batteries in the unit, gives you a change to test the units, clean the units, and  it is the perfect time to practice your family’s emergency or evacuation plan.

If you are tired of having to change the batteries, then I suggest you look into the lithium battery smoke detectors.  These types of units have a lithium battery within the unit, which never needs to be changed.  However, these units do not last forever.  Most manufacturers have an approximate 10-year warranty on the battery or unit.  Nevertheless, do not forget to keep testing the units!

Most hardware or home improvement stores carry smoke detectors, and depending on the type you are looking for, you can find them to be reasonably priced.  I have seen prices ranging from approximately $10 to $40.  Make sure you know the type of detector you want to purchase.  There are some detectors that are combination detectors, but when you read the packaging you will find they are a combination of smoke (either photoelectric OR ionization) and carbon monoxide.