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How to Properly Maintain your Fire Alarm

Posted on: September 29, 2010

Fire alarms are among the most important means of fire protection that you can have in your Maryland, Virginia or Washington, DC home or office. But even more important than simply owning a fire alarm is making sure it is properly maintained.

Common fire alarm maintenance steps

Fire alarm maintenance involves five different steps. While it is possible to follow these steps on your own, it is highly recommended that you allow a professional to inspect and perform maintenance on your fire alarm – even a simple error could cause your fire alarm to fail, leaving you and your family or coworkers unprotected.

1. Calibrate and test the fire alarm sensors, including the flame and smoke detectors and sensors. The manufacturer will provide instructions for this.

2. Test the fire alarm’s annunciators and simulate inputs. This requires very specific instructions and is best left to a professional.

3. Set the fire alarm’s sensitivity. Again, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

4. Test the input of the fire alarm with emergency services. Be sure to coordinate this with the fire department so you do not get penalized for calling.

5. Check for corrosion on the fire alarm battery as well as the expiration date. In general, plan on changing your fire alarm battery every six months.

Be familiar with your fire alarm

The age of your fire alarm is a major factor in the type of maintenance it needs. Other factors include how well the fire alarm was installed, the history or previous fire alarm maintenance and the amount of time since the last fire alarm inspection. While there is no substitute for professional consultation, there are basic guidelines for when you should perform maintenance on your fire alarm:

Fire alarms less than five years old

New fire alarms should require little maintenance. In general, annual fire alarm inspections and semi-annual battery changes are usually enough. The only real problems that arise in fire alarms that are this young usually come from improper installation.

Fire alarms five to 10 years old

At this point your fire alarm may start to show signs of age from such factors as temperature fluctuations, humidity and voltage. If maintenance is neglected at this point, false alarms and complete system failure could occur.

Fire alarms 10 to 15 years old

Fire alarms that are this old can still be useful, provided they have been properly maintained for their whole lives. Since the probability of malfunction is higher, these fire alarms require more frequent maintenance.

Fire alarms over 15 years old

Fire alarms that are over fifteen years old should be replaced. At this age, their functionality is spotty and there is a good chance that complete system failure will occur. Annual inspections and regular maintenance by trained professionals should be performed to ensure that this does not happen.

Fire alarms over 20 years old

After 20 years, fire alarms that should definitely be replaced. Even with proper maintenance, fire alarms this age could fail during an emergency situation.

While it is possible to perform simple fire alarm maintenance steps on your own, some steps require very specific knowledge and it is highly recommended that you let a professional take care of it. For all your Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC fire alarm maintenance needs, contact Guardian Fire Protection.

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