Frequently asked questions about smoke alarms

Last Updated: 5/20/2015

Where do I put them? Per 2010 California Residential Code (CRC)
smoke alarms shall be installed in the following locations:
    - In each sleeping room.
    - Outside each sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
    - On each additional story of the dwelling including basements, but not
including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics.

How long will my smoke alarm last? Most alarms installed today have
a life span of about 8-10 years. After this time, the entire unit should be
replaced. It is a good idea to write the date of purchase with a marker on
the inside of your alarm so you will know when to replace it. Some of the
newer alarms already have the date written inside. Follow the
manufacturer’s instruction for replacement.

What if the alarm goes off while I’m cooking? Do not disable your
smoke alarm if it alarms due to cooking or other non-fire causes. You
may not remember to put the batteries back in the alarm. Instead clear the
air by waving a towel near the alarm, leaving the batteries in place. Most
alarms have a temporary silence button you can use. Find it before you
need it.

What is a hard-wired alarm? Some smoke alarms are considered to be
“hard-wired.” This means they are connected to the household electrical
system and may or may not have battery back-up. Therefore, it’s
important to test the alarm monthly and replace the batteries (if your unit
has one) at least once a year.

How do I keep my smoke alarm working?
    - Smoke alarms powered by long-lasting batteries are designed to
    replace the entire unit according to manufacturer’s instructions.
    - In standard type battery powered smoke alarms, the batteries need to
    be replaced once a year and the whole unit every 8-10 years.
    - In hard-wired battery back up smoke alarms, the batteries need to be
    checked monthly, and replaced at least once a year. The entire unit
    should be replaced every 8-10 years.