I have three two wire smoke alarms hard wired to my Napco 3200 panel. The smoke detectors are over 13 years old and they labeled ESL (Photoelectic) 2-Wire Smoke Detector. Should smoke detectors be replaced after a certain period of time and if so what Brand/model do you recommend to replace these with and what are the steps required to install the new ones?
I have heard it said before that smoke detectors should be replaced every ten years. I would download the installation sheet for your smoke detector and test them (if they have a magnet test) according to the sheet and replace any that do not test within spec. You may want to replace them anyway as there was an ESL 400 series smoke recall sometime back then. Currently I like the ESL 521 BXT for general 2-wire applications.
If you don't power down the panel, when you disconnect your old smokes, the panel will go into a trouble condition and you could cause an actual alarm. ( I don't know if you're hooked to central station or not)
Probably better if you just power down the panel, remove and replace the smoke detectors then power back up.
Mark all the wires so you know which is positive and negative, before you remove the wires from the old detectors.
If you're connected to Central Station, call them first and put the system on test before you do the following. Test all the new detectors after you power the system back up. There's a magnet test function but I like to use real smoke. There is "smoke in a can" that you can buy but no one has ever convinced me that it doesn't leave something behind in the smoke chamber. I take a couple of paper towels and twist them really-really tight. Over a sink, I light the paper towels and just let them burn for a minute or so and then blow out the flame. The towels will remain smoking for quite some time. Go back to the sink occasionally and blow on the towels to keep the embers glowing and to get rid of the ash. Get a magazine or newspaper to bring with you to use as a fan to clear the smoke from the detector. You may want to temporaraly disconnect the siren from the panel Get a small ladder so you can hold the smoking towels very close to the detector. It can take a minute or more for the detector to trip, depending on a couple of factors. When the detector trips, fan it with the magazine/etc for 20/30 seconds to clear the chamber. Check the keypad for the proper detector and reset the system. Go to the next detector .... etc.
This method WILL leave a little burning smell in the house but it dissipates quickly.
The 10 year recommendation from NFPA is in regards to Ionization type smoke detectors not photo electric which you have as long as they pass yearly inspection there should be bo problems with them. how ever ESL does have to have a higher false alarm rate as they geet older and dirty if your going to replace them look at the System sensor brand I
-3 Brand very good units and they warn if they get dirty.
I use to put in all ESL 521BXT's up till I got a shipment of 5 detectors that were dirty out of the box. Had some gray cloudy something inside the hockey puck. I first shook it off as a bad batch and did get credit from GE but it took over 2 months. Then the straw and broke the camel was when I got hit again 6 months later with the same issue. I am now only installing System Sensor smokes. GE/UTC is suppose to be still trying to figure out what is going on. I don't care if they ever figure it out. I am now a non believer.
And I still do not believe the statement when I talked to tech support. "Never heard of that before!" Oh me of little faith.
I have pictures if your are interested. But yes, some kind of gray film that can be wiped off with your finger or a q-tip. I was going to clean them but then had a second thought. Took less than a nano-second.
Nick, I don't know if I'm missing something or what, but I don't see where it says that smoke detectors have to be changed every 10 years.
This is all I see. "=95Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 year old or sooner if they do not respond properly."
Is there something else I've missed? The above seems to be a safety "suggestion" but not a "code". This issue has come up before here and in other forums and it seems to me that I remember that there is no actual "code" that calls for replacement of smoke "detectors" only smoke "alarms" .... at the 10 year mark.
There is a general understanding that electrical equipment including sensors etc should be replaced after ten years. With regards to smoke alarms there has been some work by the US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA): The US National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) have issued NFPA Standard 72, National Fire Alarm and Signalling Code (2010 edition), which states:
=93Replace all smoke alarms, including those that use ten-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are ten years old or sooner if they don=92t respond properly when tested.=94
This would indicate to me that the type of power supply is fairly immaterial.
1) The Minnesota Department of Public Safety cite a nationwide study undertaken by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which states that 97% of smoke alarms should still be functioning after one year, if supplied with power. After ten years it is 73%
2) The South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service state that smoke alarm technology has improved significantly since legislation was introduced (similar requirements to the 1992 UK ones were introduced in Australia in 1995) and replacing old smoke alarms is an ideal opportunity to upgrade smoke alarm systems. The Australian Standard for smoke alarms (AS 3786) specifies an effective life of 10 years, suggesting that after that time effectiveness may be compromised with accumulated dust, insects, airborne contaminants and corrosion of electrical circuitry
I don't have the 2010 edition, and it's not used yet anyway. What does the whole section read? You skipped the "must, shall, or should".
No, from what you posted it looks like they are talking about non-system sensors.
The 10 year thing doesn't apply to system smokes because they are tested at least annually, and commercial smokes have swap-able/cleanable sensing chambers. They also have ample backup power, and are supervised
Any detector you buy at Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.. needs to be tossed every 10 years because it's a consumer product.