Keeping Your Condo Safe with Smoke Alarm Upkeep

When keeping your condo investment protected, one of the simplest and most effective places to start is fire safety. And when it comes to fire safety, it’s hard to think of a more impactful element than your smoke alarm. 


Your first line of defence against any fire-related situation that might arise, your smoke alarm does more than just give you a jump-start on keeping your condo safe in the event of a fire. Smoke alarms save lives on a daily basis – but only if they’re in good working condition and are installed appropriately to allow them to do so. 


Want to learn more about what to look for when it comes to smoke alarm functionality and where your responsibilities as a condo owner lie? Read on for more. 

Keep Your Condo Fire-Safe with These Five Smoke Detector Tips


1. The Basics

Regarding building-wide fire safety equipment maintenance, Alberta legislation stipulates that these systems are to be inspected and maintained annually. This is typically handled by the condo board or property management company bringing in a qualified individual to give fire alarm systems, extinguishers, and suppression systems a yearly once-over to ensure things are operating as intended. 


However, each owner is responsible for maintaining the fire protection system components within their own unit when it comes to individual suites. The Alberta STANDATA on multi-family dwelling fire safety suggests that owners can conduct an annual visual assessment for many of those components. After three years of such inspections, though, a qualified fire protection service representative will complete the fourth-annual evaluation. 


That sounds like decent advice so far – now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of making sure your smoke alarm is set up for success in the first place. 


2. Where to Put (and Not to Put) Your Smoke Alarm 

When it comes to smoke alarm efficacy, location is critical. Therefore, the standard recommendation is that a smoke detector is located on each level of the home, ensuring that an alarm can be raised quickly and efficiently no matter where a fire might start. 


Further – keeping in mind that smoke alarms are most often used to alert occupants to potential fires when they’re asleep – it’s not a bad idea to install smoke alarms in or around hallways leading into bedrooms. Common spaces like family rooms will work well, too, when it comes to levels without any sleep quarters. 


Try to avoid setting up a smoke alarm in your kitchen, garage, or bathroom because steam, dust, and exhaust can cause nuisance (aka false) alarms that can cause an actual alarm one day to be ignored or taken less seriously. 


3. Keeping Your Smoke Alarm in Tip-Top Shape

You might not have realized it, but smoke alarms can benefit from a bit of maintenance here and there – and might just end up saving your life. 


You don’t need to do much to keep them happy, though! Simply be sure to replace your smoke alarm’s batteries annually (whether they’re dead or not!) and to replace the alarm itself once every decade (again, whether it seems to be working fine or not!). These steps both help to ensure your alarm stays sensitive to smoke and works properly. 


Additionally, you’ll want to be sure to keep your smoke alarms cleaned and regularly dusted – again, to ensure they’ve got good, unfettered access to the air around them to work their best. 


Lastly, be sure not to paint over or otherwise cover up any part of your smoke alarm with stickers, decorations, or anything else. All these cosmetic add-ons could again keep your smoke alarm from picking up on the sensitive atmospheric changes it needs to pay attention to do its job correctly.


4. Test Often and Regularly

Some folks will tell you to test your smoke alarm once or twice a year, but that leaves too much chance for us. So instead, we’d encourage you to give your smoke alarm a quick test once a month to be sure everything’s working tickety-boo just the way it’s supposed to. 


We say this because when it comes down to it, testing your smoke alarm couldn’t be a more straightforward proposition – and it’s your responsibility as a condo unit owner, besides. See that little button on your smoke alarm that says “Test”? Just give it a little push, and it should make a whole lot of racket. Congratulations: your smoke alarm works! You can also do a more practical smoke test by blowing out a candle near your alarm and letting the resulting smoke set it off – although you might end up fanning the air around your alarm for a minute or two to get it to shut off again! 


5. Nuisance Alarms – Not So Much of a Nuisance After All

While some folks consider nuisance or false alarms to be a pain, we think of them as the opposite. Nuisance alarms are helpful because they tell you there’s something wrong with your smoke alarm’s working, allowing you to sort things out before you run into a failure in a real fire safety scenario. 


Is your alarm chirping? Try these suggestions.


Is your alarm going off because it’s in a bad location? Because it’s too old and desensitized? Maybe because it’s full of dust, dirt, cobwebs, or grease? You can create a safer condo community by figuring out what’s causing those nuisance alarms. 

At Catalyst Condo Management, we take fire safety seriously and are always ready to advocate on behalf of our residents to ensure their buildings are safe, sound, and protected. Want to learn more about your fire safety responsibilities as a condo owner? Give us a call at Catalyst Condo Management to learn everything there is to know today!