Consumer reports- maintaining your smoke detectors

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CONSUMER REPORTS — We’ve all experienced it .. that loud, piercing, deafening sound of a smoke detector. But Consumer Reports says resist the urge to take down your alarm or remove its batteries.

“Always assume there’s a fire. When you’ve determined that it’s safe, then you can get to the root cause. Some of the things that will cause an alarm to go off are dying batteries, steam from a shower, dust, or even spiders inside the alarm,” said Bernie Deitrick, Consumer Reports Tester. 

Let’s start the fixes with an easy one: The battery. Replace it every six months; if it’s sealed in the unit, replace the unit every 10 years. To reduce other alarm triggers it helps to understand how detectors work. There are two main types of detectors – photoelectric and ionization.

“Photoelectric alarms respond to particles in the air – created by smoldering fires or

steamy showers. They’re less prone to false alarms caused by cooking, so consider

them for areas near kitchens,” said Deitrick. 

Ionization alarms, on the other hand, are triggered by the small particles given off by an open flame so an active kitchen will often produce false alarms. They’re better installed near steamy bathrooms.

For the best protection, Consumer Reports recommends dual sensor alarms which use both types of technology or a combination of photoelectric and ionization alarms throughout your home. 

Consumer Reports recommends the First Alert 3120B or the Kidde P12010.

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