In this episode of Real Estate 101: The Home Buying & Selling Show, Allan Spisak, Director and General Manager at ACISS Home Inspections talks about smoke alarms and why they are important.
As of March, 2006, smoke alarms have become mandatory in homes in Ontario, on every storey outside the sleeping areas. Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms, in particular, came into force in 2014 and since 2015, have been mandatory for all houses with an attached garage of a fuel-burning appliance, regardless of their age. If the house has no source of carbon monoxide, the CO alarm is not required.
What Types of Smoke Alarms are Out There?
There are two types of smoke alarms available in the marketplace today. These are:
- Ionization. These use a slightly radioactive source to ionize the air passing through the sensing chambers
- Photoelectric, which use reflected or scattered light to detect visual smoke.
In addition, depending on the power source, smoke alarms can also be hard-wired, battery operated or a combination of the two.
Smoke alarms must be installed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. They are usually placed on the ceiling or on the wall, up to 6 inches from the ceiling. However, a smoke alarm should never be installed within “dead air space” (unventilated space through which the air does not circulate).
How Long do Smoke Alarms Last?
Smoke alarms have a certain operational period and should be replaced every 7 to 10 years with a new one, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. This goes for both hardwired and battery operated alarms, as well as the combination of the two.
In addition, smoke alarms also require regular maintenance every six months or so. This can be done by lightly vacuuming or brushing off the dust collected on the detectors, but for hard-wired smoke alarms, you need to make sure the breaker is shut off first.
What are the Symptoms and What to do In Case of CO Poisoning?
Carbon monoxide poisoning includes symptoms similar to flu, but without the elevated temperature. This can include:
- Lack of breath
- Burning eyes
- Loss of consciousness
If you or any other occupant in your home exhibits these symptoms, you should leave the affected area immediately and go somewhere with fresh air. You should then monitor the victim’s breathing and call 911 so they can receive proper treatment.
How Do CO Alarms Work?
CO alarms detect the presence of carbon monoxide in the air and allow those in its area to quickly leave it by measuring parts per million of CO in the air. This way, the alarm can sense high concentrations of CO over a short period of time or low concentration over a longer period of time.
When they detect CO, carbon monoxide detectors respond with four quick beeps, followed by a five second pause. This way they differentiate from smoke alarms, which have three beeps, followed by a 1.5 second pause.
Watch this episode to learn more about smoke alarms.
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