Smoke Alarm Maintenance
Only working smoke alarms can provide the critical early warning needed to save lives.
How do I test and clean my smoke alarm?
Monthly: Test by holding down the test button until you hear a loud alert tone, then release. Use a broom handle if you cannot reach but be careful you do not damage the smoke alarm.
Yearly: Vacuum around your smoke alarm vents with a soft brush attachment. This will remove a build-up of dust and cobwebs.
Yearly: Use a surface insect spray around the smoke alarm to prevent insects nesting inside. Do not spray inside the smoke alarm.
Yearly: Replace your 9 volt battery each year on 1 April. All smoke alarms – including mains powered alarms – have batteries. If your alarm has a 9 volt user-replaceable battery, you will need to replace the battery each year.
How do I know when my smoke alarm needs replacing?
All smoke alarms require replacement every 10 years. After 10 years the efficiency of your smoke alarm may be compromised with accumulated dust, insects, airborne contaminants and corrosion of electrical circuitry.
Smoke alarms make a warning ‘beep’ or ‘chirp’ when there is a fault or when the battery needs replacing.
Before changing the battery, check with the manufacturer’s instructions. Many smoke alarms on the market have a rechargeable battery. You will not be able to change the battery in this type of alarm.
Smoke alarms with a user-replaceable battery (9 volt alkaline) may continue to ‘chirp’ or ‘beep’ after changing the battery. The smoke alarm is likely to be faulty and will require replacement.
Please note, mains powered smoke alarms may give a low battery warning after periods of extended mains power outage. You should be aware that rechargeable batteries may need a few hours to recharge after the mains power is restored. This may be longer if the back-up battery has been totally depleted during the periods of mains power failure.
If there are many periods of power outage over the life of a smoke alarm, the rechargeable lithium cells may degrade and become inoperable.
A licensed electrical contractor is required to disconnect or install mains powered smoke alarms.
Maintenance for rental properties
If you are renting or hiring your property you are required to maintain your smoke alarms in working order, and ensure they are less than 10 years old.
We recommend the following maintenance routine:
- Check the alarm(s) are firmly secured in the correct location as stated in the Building Code of Australia requirements. (Double sided tape is not acceptable)
- Check the required power source is connected and operating. Where mains powered smoke alarms are installed, they will have a green visual display / light to indicate that mains power is connected. This should be easily seen when standing beneath the alarm
- Test the smoke alarm during routine inspections, or at least every six months
- Check the smoke alarm(s) for a build-up of dust and cobwebs
- Vacuum around the smoke alarm vents with a soft brush at least every 6 months
- Use a surface insect spray around the smoke alarm to prevent insects nesting inside. (Do not spray directly onto the smoke alarm)
- Check the smoke alarms are within their service life. Smoke alarms require replacement every 10 years. The date for replacement is often located on the unit
- Replace batteries yearly (where the smoke alarm has a user-replaceable 9V battery) – always refer to the manufacturer’s guide when selecting batteries and follow testing procedures.
- Cleaning with a vacuum cleaner (at least once a year) to remove particles that will affect smoke alarm performance.
We recommend you undertake this maintenance routine at EACH inspection. Landlords and property managers should keep records of maintenance.
A licensed electrical contractor is required to disconnect or install mains powered smoke alarms. All other smoke alarm maintenance does not require a licensed electrical contractor.
Maintenance for tenants
- Test the alarm monthly by holding down the test button until you hear a loud alert tone, then release. Use a broom handle if you cannot reach but be careful you do not damage the smoke alarm
- Not to tamper with alarms or place any obstruction to restrict airflow to the alarms, including paint or tape
- Check the green visual display light is lit up. This shows that the smoke alarm is connected to the mains power.