Two of the most basic safety components in a house should be smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and certain models offer both in the same unit.
With safety being a priority – US Fire Administration (USFA) / National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) – you are best off installing an alarm on each floor, and many building codes will require it in newer construction, as well as hard wiring the units to AC power. If there is no existing pre-wiring on an older home, then manufacturers have you covered with several long-life battery powered units to choose from.
Smoke and CO Alarm Features to Consider
There are various combinations and models available for smoke and co alarms. The manufacturers sites will have comprehensive information to help the buying decision. Common brands include Kidde…First Alert…BRK.
With a combination smoke and co alarm, it’s important to know which is activating the alarm. Talking alarms let you know whether fire or carbon monoxide is being detected with a loud and clear voice. Also consider an ADA compliant alarm with a flashing strobe to further enhance your safety, especially if hearing impaired.
The interconnect communication feature is a valuable safety asset, so please take the time to research manufacturers sites or product boxes for compatibility when replacing and/or upgrading your smoke and co alarms.
Alarm Location Examples
- Garage – Wireless Heat Detector connected to wireless home alarm. I like this option as the speaker is then on the inside of the house, as part of the alarm. If parking cars in the garage, you won’t want a carbon monoxide alarm, as false alarms will happen from the cars exhaust.
- Basement – Kidde AC Combination Carbon Monoxide/Explosive Gas Alarm: near furnace and hot water heater. A separate Kidde Smoke Alarm connected to the above 2 floors. Hardwired per code.
- First Floor – Kidde Direct Wire Interconnectable Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Talking Alarm. Hardwired per code.
- Second Floor – Kidde Direct Wire Interconnectable Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Talking Alarm. Hardwired per code.
Common Smoke Alarm Questions
When should I replace my alarm?
The standard is 10 years for a smoke alarm and 7 years for a CO2 alarm. Read the manufacturers instructions for specific product information, or visit their site for any additional information as products and rules can change.
When should I replace my alarms battery?
Varies per product on how it was designed. Some smoke detectors have a built-in lifetime battery installed, and some use a standard 9v battery that may need annual replacement. Again, read the manufacturers instructions for specific product information.
Smoke Alarm Continues to Chirp; Battery is Fine?
If the current battery is confirmed to be be working properly, try unplugging the smoke alarm (if connected to AC power), and also clean with compressed air per manufacturers instructions. If chirping continues after plugging back in, try another battery, or consult the manufacturer.