One day you will have to install a smoke detector in your home and you ask yourself: is it really reliable? Here are 10 things you should know before buying a smoke detector.

Detectors detect vapour in the air

Smoke detectors can be triggered unintentionally.

For example:

– When a person is smoking nearby.

– In a kitchen where water is boiling.

– In a poorly ventilated bathroom.

Good to know: To cover the kitchen without the risk of triggering the alarm at the slightest cooking, place your detector on the ceiling about 50 cm from the entrance.

No need to place detectors in all rooms

A detector installed on the wall or ceiling on each floor of your home is sufficient.

You may prefer :

– the bedrooms (for a quick wake-up);

– the staircase (to reach more people at the same time when the bell rings);

– offices with electronic components likely to catch fire.

Of course, smoking rooms should be avoided.

Good to know: if you install smoke detectors in your home, don’t forget to inform your insurance company.

The detector is paired with an alarm

In a network, when one detector is switched on, the others are also triggered. All smoke detectors are connected to an alarm that rings when an alarm is raised.

There are individual detectors (in a house or an apartment), network detectors (in a house), and interconnectable detectors (in a building).

Good to know: to protect a dusty, damp place from a fire without the risk of the alarm being triggered unintentionally, you can place “heat detectors” instead. They switch on above a temperature of 50°C.

The detectors do not work in the event of a gas leak

Smoke detectors only activate when smoke is present. However, the most important causes of accidents are still gas accidents. For example, carbon monoxide from a heater is odourless and colourless.

Hence, a special gas alarm must be installed to prevent gas leaks.

Good to know: in case of poisoning, place the victim on his side to allow him to breathe better while waiting for help to arrive.

Detectors communicate with each other

With the exception of stand-alone detectors, smoke detectors can communicate with each other and with other machines.

They can send messages:


– to other detectors on the network to set them off;
– to the homeowner;
– to a monitoring service;

Good to know: detectors cannot contact the police directly in the event of a fire. Their number is deactivated to avoid false alarms.

Ion detectors are prohibited in residential homes

Ionic smoke detectors have been banned since November 2011 because they are harmful to health.

The principle of these detectors was to ionize the air with a low radioactive charge.

These detectors had been operating since the early 2000s and, until the Nuclear Safety Authority (NSA) banned them, they were considered very reliable.

The detector works with or without wires

Batteries or cables, one thing is certain: all smoke detectors remain functional no matter what happens.

In a battery-operated device: when the battery is empty, an alarm will signal this.

In a wired device: if the power is cut off, a backup battery takes over.

Good to know: If you choose a battery-operated device, choose lithium batteries that last about 10 years.

How do I maintain the detector?

It is not enough to install a smoke detector, you must also take care of it. First of all, make sure to check every month that the device works. To do this, simply press a simple button that will let you know that the alarm bell is working properly.

Secondly, to check that the smoke alarm is detecting smoke, you can simply light up a cigarette.

Please also note that if you hear an audible signal, it is probably because you need to change the battery.

Finally, you should check that the entrances to the detector’s detection chamber are clear. Clean them with a vacuum cleaner and especially avoid using a wet cloth to avoid contact with the electrical wires.

How to choose your smoke alarm?

When buying a smoke detector, you must be vigilant. Indeed, you should avoid buying the first smoke detector that you see. Make sure that it complies with the standards in force. For this, you can check that the specific norm as per your state is visible on the “standard” detector.

Good to know: What about home insurance?

If the installation of a smoke alarm is intended to reduce the number of fire victims, it is also important to know how to protect your property.

This is why it is important to make sure you inform the insurance company. They may agree to reduce your insurance premium. Indeed, the presence of such a device in your home reduces the risk of fire.

In concrete terms, all you have to do is send a simple letter or e-mail to the insurer certifying that the smoke detector complies with the standard in practice while also enclosing the invoice.

Please note that in case of rental, it is up to the tenant to inform the insurer because it is the home insurance that he has taken care to subscribe to that will come into consideration in case of fire.

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