How often do you test your smoke alarm? Do you ever get the vacuum cleaner out to clean it? Testing and cleaning your smoke alarm could just save your life.
Your smoke alarm could save your life, so it’s vital that it can respond quickly to a fire in your home. But there’s not just one type of fire – they have to react to everything from fast-flaming materials like polyurethane to slow-smouldering materials like wood.
That’s why you can feel confident that the alarm you’re buying has been certified as tested to the British Standard in all types of fires. Or can you?
Smoke alarms our fail tests
In our recent test of smoke alarms, two FireAngel alarms failed to go off as required under the British Standards in one of the four test fires.
We advise people not to buy these two models (LSI-601 & SI-601) and have passed our findings on to Trading Standards. We also passed our findings on to Sprue Safety Products Ltd, the manufacturer, which is conducting its own investigations into our findings. Check out the smoke alarms that did best in our tests.
Testing your smoke alarms
Once you have a smoke alarm you can trust, you’ll want to keep it in good nick. Yet, not everyone does.
Around one in ten Which? members never check that their battery-powered smoke alarm is working. So how often should you test your alarm? You might not know it, but you should really be testing them once a week. Only 5% of people told us that they actually do this, with 11% only checking them when they beep.
However, checking they’re working isn’t the only thing you should be doing. You’ll also want to vacuum under the cover of your smoke alarm every six months, using the soft brush on your vacuum cleaner, to avoid dust particles interfering with the alarms performance.
Changing the battery
It’s also a good idea to change the battery every year. And don’t prise out the battery in frustration when the nuisance alarm in your kitchen won’t stop beeping after you’ve burnt a slice of toast. Or at least make sure you replace the battery straight after.
You should certainly make sure you’re not one of the 4% in our survey who don’t have either a smoke alarm or a carbon monoxide detector in their home.
So, how often do you check and clean your smoke alarm? And do you change the battery every year as recommended?
[UPDATE 31/10/2013] – Sprue Safety Products Ltd is the manufacturer of the two FireAngel smoke alarms that failed to go off in the parameters required by the British Standard when exposed to a test fire in our tests. At the time Which? magazine went to press, Sprue confirmed to us in writing its offer that it would provide alternative FireAngel alarms free of charge to Which? members who own the FireAngel SI-601 and LSI-601, despite questioning our methodology and results.
We are very surprised and disappointed to learn that Sprue Safety Products Ltd has now said that it will not honour this commitment because it now asserts the alarms are compliant with the British Standard. However, Which? has tested the Don’t Buy smoke alarms under rigorous British Standard conditions and we remain confident in our results. Accordingly, these alarms remain Don’t Buys.
We are very concerned that Sprue has reneged on its agreement to replace Don’t Buy alarms and we will be asking it to reconsider. We are also looking into how we can help those who have the Don’t Buy alarms and are concerned – if this applies to you, please contact our Customer Services helpdesk on 01992 822800. We will take your contact details and keep you posted about what’s happening.
Meanwhile, please do not take down any existing alarms you have and remember to test and clean them regularly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.