Sunday, November 1, 2009

Smoke Detector Replacement

The smoke detectors in my home started randomly going off after 14 years of being installed -- they had never been replaced. This sent me researching all the different kinds of smoke detectors and educating myself on what to look for, which model to purchase. This post is to share that information with you.

Coincidentally during the time I was working on this project, there was a story on the local news regarding false alarms. Here in Phoenix we had a chilly fall day and evidently a lot of people turned on their furnaces, which kicked some dust around. The firefighter spokesperson said that the smoke detectors cannot decipher smoke from dust -- they only sense particulates.

TIP: This firefighter reminded viewers to dust your smoke regularly with canned air.

Here are the original smoke detectors that I had in my house -- there were two in a 1265 sq ft single-story home. They are not battery-powered but instead wired -- although not wired into an alarm system. This is a Firex Model G-6 120 V AC Direct Wire Ionization Smoke Alarm. (Maple Chase Company). Firex and Kidde are apparently the same company.


Once I uninstalled this smoke detector, and removed the plastic mounting bracket, here is what it looked like. Notice how the special plastic 3-prong plug is designed to fit into the back of the smoke detector.


One of the most helpful resources I found online was FireSafety.gov for Citizens There they offer the following guide to selecting the smoke alarms to protect you and your family:

Because both ionization and photoelectric smoke alarms are better at detecting distinctly different yet potentially fatal fires, and because homeowners cannot predict what type of fire might start in a home, use these guidelines to help best protect your family:

BEST
  • IF YOU DON'T HAVE A SMOKE ALARM INSTALLED IN YOUR HOME, GET ONE AND INSTALL IT.
  • Install a working smoke alarm on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.
  • Install both ionization and photoelectric type smoke alarms.
  • Install interconnected smoke alarms.
  • Install smoke alarms using house wiring with battery back-up.

BETTER
  • IF YOU DON'T HAVE A SMOKE ALARM INSTALLED IN YOUR HOME, GET ONE AND INSTALL IT.
  • Install more than one smoke alarm.
  • Install interconnected smoke alarms.
  • Install smoke alarms with sealed 10 year batteries.
GOOD

* IF YOU DON'T HAVE A SMOKE ALARM INSTALLED IN YOUR HOME, GET ONE AND INSTALL IT.

After shopping both Lowe's and Home Depot and studying their smoke detectors, I selected this Firex/Kidde Model PE120 - 120V AC Photoelectric Smoke Alarm. Part# 21006371:


FRONT VIEW:

BACK VIEW:

Installation was fairly easy. As always when working with electricity, turn off the breaker box at the circuit breaker before you begin.

Once the mounting brace was removed, this was the wiring I was working with:


In this picture you can see that I have detatched the old wiring and attached the new wiring, making sure wire nuts are tightened so wires don't come loose. Then I gently packed the wires into the metal box so the mounting bracket could be attached.


Here was the new mounting bracket that came with the new Kidde model PE120:


Here the wires have been threaded through the mounting bracket. Then the mounting bracket was fastened tight with screws:


Here you can see the wires are connected and the plug is snapped into place. Just needs to be twisted into the grooves on the mounting bracket to be completely installed:


And here is the final product installed. This model is an improvement from the original model because it also has a 9-volt battery back-up in the event of a power outage. This way I am protected in either scenario.

A green light should illuminate on this model. After removing the protective battery tab, installation is complete. Lastly test the installation by pressing the test button.