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Reliability of smoke and carbon detectors (CO alarms + CO counter displays)

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Posted by: from Maple
1/31/2016 at 7:34:13 PM

Anyone one could care to comment on the reliability of our

1. smoke detectors (hard wired or AC with battery backup)

2. carbon monoxide alarms

3. carbon monoxide with a counter display

I am aware of the need to test the detectors and to change the batteries.

But in a real situation (in a fire or where CO was present), do these detectors ever fail or are they very reliable/fail safe?

Thanks

REPLIES (6)
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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time1/31/2016 at 9:08:37 PM

Nothing is fail safe. Electronics all come from places that are tested, but after shipping and handling, no one tests them but us. Which is why it is law to have one on every level of your home (smokes), and now in every bedroom. They should be able to connect to each other via wire or remote, but even if they are added with a battery only, something is better than nothing. CO sensors with readout displays are not accurate and just a fancy "extra" added in to bring caution to our eyes. If there was an emergency, it would be let you know. Life span of all smokes and CO detectors is only 8-12 years and must be replaced, test them all at least 2-3 times a year I recommend every few months and don't buy cheap batteries. Good batteries will need replacing every 2 years, cheap ones, every 6 months.

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Date/Time1/31/2016 at 11:40:31 PM

Further to Robert's great comments...

People need to learn two additional things;

1. Detectors need maintenance; and

2. Do not rely on the "Test" button for functionality.

Detectors need to be cleaned and inspected on at least an annual basis. I have dozens of photos that document that a visual inspection of the detector reduces the risk of problems.

Using the test button only tests the alarm circuit; it does not test the sensor. Use a can of approved test smoke and use the button to reset the detector.

Cheers

John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc

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Dave from 360renos in Navan
Date/Time2/1/2016 at 6:47:57 AM

Great responses from two great electrical contractors for you Martin.

A question for Rob and John .... Any particular brands you would recommend for home owners? Maybe a brand that has a great combination of smoke, fire, CO to meet current building codes?

A brand that has given you trouble free installation over the years?

Thanks,

Dave

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Robert from Electrilight Ltd. in Oakville
Date/Time2/1/2016 at 7:26:04 AM

Unfortunately, even the well known Kidde has recently had a recall on 6-10 of their most common smoke and smoke/co combo units. BRK are common and First Alert as well. Nest are supposed to be good as well, but at their price in newness to the market, I can't comment. I've installed them, with ease, but longevity and function... who knows. Keep buying the best, most common, brands and sign up for newsletters and recall letters. Smokes can never be too many for a home, keep them out of bathroom, kitchens and garages as moisture, temps and false alarms are common here, but install close to those doorways. use in furnace rooms, storage areas, all bedrooms and near fireplaces. Do yourselves a favor and remove all open bulb or halogen fixtures in closets, storage areas and places that obstacles can be piled up to these areas. And unplug chargers when not in use and (not a code rule, but should be)do not install USB style receptacles within 5' of any bed or couch.

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Date/Time2/1/2016 at 11:07:11 PM

I have mostly dealt with the Kiddie / First Alert brands (same company). I have replaced them because I am not fond of the "burning" of the circuit board on the main resistor. (picture attached). The unit as you can see is perfectly clean, but the resistor is over heating.

The newer brand of Kiddie / First Alert has a different style resistor which seems to hold up better.

For the new code BRK is the only approved model; so whether you like them or not, they are it. They are too new to have nay known problems, but I just recently replaced 4 of them at a new build home. BRK replaced all of them under warranty which I thought was positive.

Cheers

John Kuehnl-Cadwell

Master Electrician

Datawise Solutions Inc


Reliability of smoke and carbon detectors (CO alarms + CO counter displays)
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Dave from 360renos in Navan
Date/Time2/3/2016 at 5:49:30 AM

Thanks John and Rob

Dave

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