Make the most of your home now more than ever! Our craftsmen are here for you.


We offer a wide range of services for that fresh look, or just maintenance or updates to keep your home functioning and safe. Regardless of the size of the job, we have a craftsman that can tackle it. We offer a wide range of services for that fresh look, or just maintenance or updates to keep your home functioning and safe. Regardless of the size of the job, we have a craftsman that can tackle it.

Learn More!

Electrical  /  September 3, 2021

Do Smoke Detectors Expire?

Do Smoke Detectors Expire?

Everyone knows that smoke detectors save lives. Data collected by the National Fire Protection Association clearly shows that more damage occurs and lives are lost in houses without functional smoke alarms. If you are concerned about your family’s safety, then you probably already have a smoke detector in at least one room. Unfortunately, some homeowners tend to forget about these devices after installing them, and may even let them expire. Handyman Connection provides electrical repair services that include smoke detector inspection and installation. Here is why you should consider our services for your outdated detectors.

How Smoke Detectors Work

Many people who call us in search of an electrician in Victoria are surprised to learn that radioactive materials are the basis of smoke detection technology in most homes. Here are the chemical elements that various models of detectors might contain:

  • Americium-241. Most of the particles it emits are similar to harmless helium atoms.
  • Nickle-63. This element emits high-speed electrons that cannot pass through the smoke detector’s plastic covering.
  • Radium-226. Radium gives off minuscule amounts of radiation, comparable to what the earth and space naturally emit into the atmosphere.

Inside the smoke detector, the radioactive particles ionize air molecules. These ions then create a tiny electric current that powers two electrodes inside a special chamber. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow between the electrodes and causes an alarm to sound. However, the alarm itself requires electricity from either the home’s electrical system or a battery.

When to Replace Your Smoke Detector

Smoke detectors do expire. The radioactive materials will last indefinitely, and the metal chamber that surrounds them will not corrode or break unless you purposely hit the detector. Likewise, the plastic casing consists of durable, long-lasting material. However, the delicate inner workings of the device have a limited lifespan and are prone to eventual malfunction. Because these parts wear out, experts advise replacing smoke detectors every 10 years.

Outdated smoke detectors can behave erratically. They may be too sensitive, causing residents of a home to plug their ears every time they burn a piece of toast. On the other hand, they can lose their sensitivity over time and fail to sound an alert during an actual house fire. Both situations occur when dust and other contaminants get inside and interfere with the functioning of the electrodes.

How To Maintain Your Smoke Detector

You should test your smoke detectors once per month by pressing the button to make sure the alarm still works. If yours came with manufacturer instructions on how to clean it, then follow their advice. More technologically advanced models may require calibration or cleaning with specialized equipment such as a non-electrostatic vacuum.

Change the batteries every six months. Even hard-wired smoke detectors have batteries that kick in when the electricity fails, so don’t assume this advice does not apply to you. Many people adopt the routine of changing their batteries when the time changes on the second Sunday in March and the first Sunday in November. If yours chirps even after changing the battery, you should replace the whole detector right away.

Handyman Connection of Victoria

Our expert electricians at Handyman Connection of Victoria are ready to inspect your smoke detectors and give you their honest advice about whether it is time to replace them. They can also help with the following tasks:

  • Changing batteries
  • Cleaning and performing maintenance 
  • Installing and hardwiring additional alarms to protect each bedroom
  • Connecting alarms so that when one goes off, they all sound

Don’t put off doing the right thing to keep your family safe in case of a fire. Contact us online or call today for an estimate.

We Offer Project Consultations!

Request an Estimate