Wired Smoke Alarms — Yep, they expire.

??? ??????For those of us with a fairly new home, wired smoke alarms are the norm.  A wired alarm acts in a similar fashion to battery smoke alarms.  The big difference between the two is the fact that they get power from an AC source (like your main power feed/breaker box) and they have a shared wired connection to all alarms that allow them to communicate to each other.  This shared connection  allows a single alarm to signal the rest of the devices to alarm as well.  From a safety perspective, this whole-house notification is a great safety feature.

Most wired alarms also have a 9V battery backup in case of loss of power.  In all cases, the traditional low battery “chirp” that all alarms feature will take place at 2 AM, like mine did last week.

I removed the alarm, removed the battery and went back to sleep.  The next morning, during my attempt to replace the battery in the alarm, I read the fine print on the back of the device.

Manufactured 10/2001, Expires 10/2011.

That’s right, my alarms have been expired for over 2 years!  To be honest, I didn’t even know smoke alarms did expire, only that the batteries needed to be replaced.  So, I began the research on suitable replacements.

My current alarms were the Kidde Model 1275.  These were basic alarms, with ionization sensors and a rear battery door.  There are two types of sensors in smoke alarms, ionization sensors and photoelectric sensors.  I’m not going to dig into the pros and cons of each sensor, the Underwriters Laboratories have done that for me.  Read until your heart is content.  I wanted to purchase a Kidde unit again, because they would share the same wiring harness with my old devices.

Fire-Hands-Screensaver_1After much research and two calls to Kidde Customer Service with questions, I decided on the Kidde KN-COSM-IB Hardwire Combination Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm with Battery Backup and Voice Warning as well the Kidde i12080 Hardwire Smoke Alarm with Exit Light and Battery Backup.  Here is why:

  • Carbon Monoxide is the leading cause of accidental poisoning deaths in North America.  It is odorless, tasteless and invisible – it’s a silent killer. The only safe way to know if carbon monoxide is present is to install carbon monoxide detectors on every level of your home and in sleeping areas.  The Kidde KN-COSM-IB Hardwire Combination Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm with Battery Backup is a great solution for this problem.
  • Kidde recommended that I do not install a CO alarm in the room where my heater is installed, which in my home is the finished basement.  This is because there is some amount of CO during the combustion process for the home’s heater.  Not enough to kill you, but enough for the alarm to sound.  So, a normal smoke alarm should be installed in these locations where CO is expected. The Kidde i12080 Hardwire Smoke Alarm with Exit Light and Battery Backup was my choice.

These alarms and not expensive and the upgrade to CO detection is worth the extra cash.  For under $200, I was able to replace all the smoke detectors in my home.  I noticed the Amazon delivery took place today, so I think I know what my weekend is going to look like!