How to Test Your Smoke Alarm

Most homeowners know they should be testing their smoke alarm regularly to make sure it works, but many aren’t sure how to do it – or how often.

With the Australian winter creeping up on us, it’s even more important that you understand your responsibilities towards maintaining a functional smoke alarm you can rely on. At a time when we’re all more prone to leaving heaters and other appliances running for longer, there’s an increase in the risk factor.

Overhead Electrical have put together this quick guide to ensure you know the laws around smoke alarms in NSW and how to keep you and your family safe.

What does the NSW law say?

In NSW, it’s the law to have a working smoke alarm fitted in every building where people may sleep, and there are certain other regulations to keep in mind, depending on your responsibilities regarding each building.

They include:

For homeowners: Ensure a working alarm is fitted on every floor or level of your home. They should be placed in hallways near bedrooms, wherever possible.
For tenants: Your landlord is responsible for ensuring a working alarm is installed on every level of your home. However, you are responsible for checking the alarm and changing the battery, if necessary, once tenancy has commenced.
For landlords: You are responsible for inserting a new battery for every new tenant, if the smoke alarm has a replaceable battery. Neither yourself or the tenant is permitted to interfere with the smoke alarm, unless you have good reason to.
For caravans and motorhomes: A caravan or motorhome must contain at least one working fire alarm that has a “hush” button, for silencing the alarm if necessary.

There are two main types of smoke alarms:

Battery-powered: These are easy-to-install and have replaceable batteries.
AC-powered: These can generally only be installed by an electrician and are more durable, due to their direct-wired power source.

Both types of alarms have to be tested once per month. Between 2010 and 2014, 56% of fatal home fires in New South Wales occurred in a home where no smoke alarm was fitted. To ensure your family is given warning if a fire or smoke were to break out, you can carry out a simple monthly test.

How to test your smoke alarm.

Each smoke alarm is fitted with a test button. Simply press the button and an alarm will sound briefly, signalling a functioning alarm.

What else can you do as a safety measure?

It’s best to take steps to maintain your smoke alarm and keep it in peak condition. The following advice is simple and quick to follow, and you don’t need to carry it out often. It is recommended by Fire and Rescue NSW that you do the following procedures.

Every six months
Smoke alarms can be affected by dust and humidity over time, so clean yours with a vacuum cleaner every six months.

Every year
If your smoke alarm has a removable battery, you should install a new one once per year, even if yours seems to be working okay.

Every ten years
Remember to replace the smoke alarm completely every decade, since their sensitivity decreases over time.

Overhead Electrical is fully licensed to install smoke alarms across Sydney and promises an efficient service you can rely on. Give our team a call on 0409 017 436 to ensure your property is in regulation with fire safety laws.

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