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Replacing old smoke detectors

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Hokerer, Jul 28, 2006.

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  1. Hokerer

    Hokerer Member

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    Considering that our smoke detectors were installed when the house was built in 1984, I'm thinking they're way past due being replaced...

    Couple of items for discussion...

    How many? According to our city code/inspection folks, new construction would require one in each bedroom plus one on each living level. But they told me that, since this is existing construction, I'm grandfathered and don't have to add any (there are none in the bedrooms currently).

    Brand? Are there brands/models that are particularly good and some that are junk. What about the technology of the detectors themselves.

    Smoke + CO? We've already got separate Nighthawk for CO detector so I don't think new combined detectors make sense. Seems to me that when you try to do two things with one box, you end up not doing either thing particularly well.

    Battery and/or AC? Code folks say they don't care.

    ...and anything else I'm missing

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  2. jabush

    jabush Feeling the Heat

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    Do you by chance have a alarm system? Our smoke detectors were installed by our alarm company and are monitored 24/7 with the alarm system. They are wireless and are powered by lithium batteries so they last quite awhile. I like the fact that they are monitored as I have dogs and cats that are here, when we are not.
  3. Hokerer

    Hokerer Member

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    Nope, no alarm system.

    Another aspect - is interconnection of the detectors important?
  4. MountainStoveGuy

    MountainStoveGuy Minister of Fire

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    My detectors go off when they here another detector, if thats what your asking.
  5. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    If I were to replace my smoke detectors I would get the combination photoelectric ion ones

    Way back when late 70's, when smokes were first code mandated they were ion types. Again till new technology is time tested, codes made adjustments. At first they were so sensitive they went off from candles The fire marshals told the smoke detector manufactures to de- sensitize they. They made too many false alarms calls Also during this time UL and insurance companies started telling furniture, rug, cloth manufactures you got to do something about reducing combustibility and make you household products less flammable. At first it was discovered the steam from showers and kitchen food preparation set off the detectors. and that photo electric detectors were better for close to kitchen bath locations. Constantly testing and examining smoke detector results were they working are they saving lives? and property damage reductions? Fast forward into the 90's. It seemed every bedroom had a tv set and other noise making appliances that made it hard to hear that remote hallway alarm So code was updated to require them in every bedroom and also that they be dual powered with battery backup. Another important code addition was the requirement that smokes now shared the same circuit with light fixtures. Suggested were the kitchen light but not code mandated. All to often false alarms many went to the fuse panel and turned off the dedicated circuit they were on. Thus no protection. The kitchen light is the most used interior light. If its off, that breaker will get turned back on

    Remember I said f fire retardants found it way into fabrics and rugs? All too many fires now were the smoldering type, which went on undetected, till finally it set off the alarms. Studies have proven that ion detectors excel in detecting open flames but lack the sensitivity to detect smoldering fires. So much so the smoke level can reach impassibility to disorientation of occupants trying to escape. Photo electric on the other hand responds quicker to smoldering fires but does not respond as quickly to open flames.


    At the past State of MA code revisions a fire marshal from the NFPA presented compelling evidence. And proposed a code change requiring combo ion/photoelectric/ smoke detectors.

    If I were changing mine out I would use the combo battery backup types. The cheap multi packs ion are no better than yours only if battery backup is built in is it better. If yours work, they should be blown out from dust collection, that can trigger false alarms, No sense replacing something that works. Unless wanting dual sensor detection.

    Also new codes mandate carbon Monoxide detectors for solid and fossil fuel burning appliances. Smoke detectors and co detectors are now required in garages attached to living spaces. One final code revision was the addition of an additional smoke detector on the first floor for every 600 sq ft. Upstairs bedrooms are protected by as many as 5 detectors. Yet there is only one providing coverage for an equally large or larger downstairs area? That is the reason supporting this code revision
  6. Hokerer

    Hokerer Member

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    I suspect, at 22+ years old, mine aren't exactly "something that works". Isn't there some element (Americium??) in them that decays over time or something like that?
  7. Hokerer

    Hokerer Member

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    That's sort of where I'm leaning. Looking at prices though, doing all of them that way could get real pricey. Kidde PI2000 (Combo ion/photoelectric, direct-wire AC, battery backup) looks to be somewhere in the $40-45 range. Four upstairs (hallway + 3 BR) plus two downstairs (hallway + 1 BR) adds up real quick. What about using the combo ones for the upstairs and downstairs hallways and using something like Kidde 1275E (ion only, direct-wire AC, battery backup) at $10-15 in each bedroom. That seems a little more reasonable compromise.
  8. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Code wise you only have to hace what is the original type replacements in the original locations However you propose a good compromise replace your e AC wired with the dual ion photo battery backup then battery type in the bedrooms. It's one to proclaim something is better, I typed the long post to show the progression of how code. I know the combos are expensive.. It is hoped in time they will become more affordable
  9. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    CO detectors in the garage? Wouldn't there be a lot of false alarms?

    I've seen that First Alert has a wireless interconnection model available. I think there are CO combo units also available with that.
    This way, there is no wiring required, and if the detector goes off in the basement all of them sound.
  10. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    [quote author="velvetfoot" date="1154556008"]CO detectors in the garage? Wouldn't there be a lot of false alarms?
    No alarms would be false. The number one location of co entering homes are from iddling in garages.. It may take an alarm going off to save some fool's life
  11. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    Its real easy to test a smoke detector, and its recommended you test them every 6 months anyway. Don't use the test button, but light a match, blow it out, and verify that your alarm detects the smoke.

    By the way, Walmart now sells (ion only I believe) smoke detectors with 9v battery, for $4.50, and BigLots sells them with 9v batt for $2.99. I'm sure these are adaqute for bedrooms that don't already have a detector. I bought one of these to mess around with, as I build a homemade flue alarm. Speaking of which - does anyone know of any good adjustable flue temperature alarms?
  12. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    Here is the link to First Alert Onelink:
    http://www.onelinkalarms.com/ONELINKhome.htm


    I would think false alarms are undesireable.
    So does First Alert.
    See page 2:
    http://firstalert.com/manuals/M08-0048-003E%20(SC07)WEB.pdf
  13. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    sometimes the smoke from a match will not be enough. when the fire dept. test out a smoke system they use a can of smoke. you can't buy these everywhere. alarm supply houses only and a bit pricey $10.00 to $15.00 a can. they spray for a full 60 seconds if the the alarm sounds in the 60 seconds it's good. if not it fails inspection. you only get 2 to 3 test out of a can. i find the cheapest way to see if the alarm is good (and enjoyable) is to go to the store and buy a cigar and start blowing smoke at it. if it doesn't go off in the amount of time that you get a little lite headed then replace it.
    cigarettes don't work consistantly. cigars are the best. or start soldering up some pipes. that will surely set of a detector. works everytime.
  14. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    New kitchen range - $800

    New range hood microwave - $450

    Finding out that the smoke detectors all worked when the grease fire blasted off - Priceless


    Next time I think I will test them with one of those cigars.
  15. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    forgot to say in the last post that around here in mass. with the smoke det system the fire dept. wants a heat det. installed and wired in with the rest of the system over every stove.
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