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Most common mistakes when installing a fire alarm

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- Published 2nd August 2018

Smoke and heat alarms can save lives. However, all too often fatalities occur due to human error. From failing to change a battery to installing your detector incorrectly, we take a look at some of the most common mistakes when installing a fire alarm – and what you can do to help avoid these.

Forgetting to replace a battery in the smoke alarm

It’s easily done. For most, just the presence on a smoke alarm is enough to assure them of the building’s safety. However, all too often, a fire is allowed to break out because a smoke or heat alarm has failed – and, more often than not, this is largely due to an expired battery.

How you can prevent this?

Your fire alarm needs to be tested regularly to ensure the battery hasn’t expired. How often should fire alarms be tested? Every six months ideally. Both the Sentinel heat and smoke alarms operate with a 10-year-life Energiser 3v Lithium Battery, which reduces the need to change the battery so often. What’s more, each fire alarm includes a low-battery warning so you’ll be alerted when your battery needs replacing.

Relying on either a smoke detector or heat detector

Since heat alarms and a smoke alarms detect different elements of a fire, it’s important to use both. A heat alarm will activate only when the temperature of the room is raised above a certain point. Conversely, a smoke alarm will only sound when there’s an over-abundance of smoke or dust particles in the air.

How can you prevent this?

Ideally, you should use a combination of the two in your building – this way you’re safeguarded for both common indicators that a fire is about to break out. Sentinel’s smoke and heat alarms can be included in the same circuit which ensures you’re protected against both. So, if your heat alarm in the cellar detects a sudden jump in temperature, the smoke alarm in your bedroom will be activated as well.

Neglecting your fire alarm maintenance

In addition to testing your heat or smoke alarm every six months, it’s important to regularly check that your fire alarms are in tip-top condition. Neglecting to service your fire alarms can dramatically shorten their effectiveness in the event of a fire.

How to prevent this?

Take a look at a fire safety inspection checklist and refer to this during your bi-annual check. This will include checking that the area around your smoke alarms are free from dust and ensuring your fire alarms are properly fastened to the wall or ceiling. If you’re pregnant or retired, the fire service will actually perform this check for you. Speak to your local fire station to arrange a visit.

Incorrectly installing fire alarms

For some, installing a fire alarm is fraught with difficulties. If your smoke or heat detector is mains-powered, drilling may be required. Similarly, depending on whether you are fitting a heat or smoke detector, certain alarms will work better in some rooms more than others.

How can you prevent this?

Always read through instructions before you install your fire alarms and plan your circuit accordingly. If you live in a large house, ensure that you have a sufficient quantity of fire detectors to safeguard the space. Finally, install your smoke and heat detectors in the centre of the room, at least 10cm from the nearest wall or corner.

Sentinel fire alarms are completely wire-free which makes them quick and easy to install – in under 10 minutes, in fact. If you need any further help, we have a video which can help you learn how to install a fire alarm.