How Long Do Smoke Detectors Last?

Even the most expensive, state-of-the-art smoke alarms have a limited lifespan. Should you fail to replace yours within the specified timeframe, there’s a good chance it’ll stop working and put your household at risk.

What’s more, if inadequately maintained, a smoke alarm can cease to function correctly before its lifespan lapses.

This post explains how long a smoke detector will last. We’ll also provide actionable advice on how to ensure yours remains operational throughout its entire lifespan.

What Is The Lifespan of A Smoke Alarm?

Every smoke alarm sold in Australia has a maximum operating lifespan of ten years. Once this period has lapsed, the smoke alarm not only becomes unsafe, but it also stops being compliant with federal and state laws.

So why does a smoke alarm only function properly for ten years?

Smoke detectors work around the clock to monitor the air in your home, keeping an ever-watchful eye out for the presence of potentially deadly smoke particles. Most alarms test for particles inside the chamber every 40 to 60 seconds. Therefore, an alarm running 24/7 over ten years will test for smoke particles a whopping 7,884,000 times.

Like all electronic and mechanical devices, a smoke alarm will suffer from wear and tear over time. As it gets more tests under its belt, the alarm gradually becomes less reliable. As a result, an expired smoke alarm will be significantly less effective at detecting smoke, thus putting your household at risk.

Furthermore, an older unit will accumulate dust, debris, and insects. All these factors can inhibit its effectiveness over time.

How To See the Expiration Date of A Smoke Alarm

If you’re unsure whether your smoke alarm is still within its mandated ten-year lifespan, there’s a simple way to find out.

Remove the unit from its plate and look for a sticker with lots of small, compact text on the back or side of the alarm. Once you’ve found it, scour the sticker until you find a date code, including a year and month. Add ten years onto the listed date to determine the date of expiry.

Note that the date listed on the sticker is the date of manufacture. The serviceable lifespan of a smoke alarm begins the day it is built, not the day you install it in your home.

Can Smoke Alarms Fail Before Their Lifespan Has Expired?

While modern smoke alarms are more durable and reliable than ever before, they can still fail prematurely. Think of the ten-year expiration date as the maximum time the smoke alarm will last. There’s no guarantee it will work effectively until then.

It’s up to you to test and maintain your smoke alarms to ensure every unit is working correctly. According to Fire & Rescue NSW, a householder should:

  • Test the alarm once per month
  • Vacuum clean the alarm and inspect the insect screen every six months
  • Replace any removable batteries every 12 months
  • Replace every smoke alarm every ten years.

By following these steps, you can rest assured your smoke alarm will function correctly in an emergency.

Home or business owners with wireless interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms must test every device on their network. It’s not enough to just test one.

My Smoke Alarm Is Making Noises: Is It Faulty?

If your smoke alarm is making unwanted noises, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with it. Chances are, the device is trying to tell you something important.

Should your smoke alarm make a chirping sound every 60 seconds, it’s probably low on batteries. Resist the urge to remove the battery until you can replace it, as this will render the alarm useless. Purchase a replacement battery as soon as possible, then switch the new battery in and test the device.

If your detector triggers a nuisance alarm, it could be because it’s located too close to a kitchen or bathroom. Both cooking-related smoke and shower-induced steam can cause a false alarm. Another possibility is dust or an insect has infiltrated the chamber. Examine the unit and clean it thoroughly.

Purchase a New Smoke Alarm from PSA Products

Whether you’re replacing an expired smoke alarm or adding a new one to your property, we’ve got the ideal solution. With over 30 years of experience in the fire safety sector, PSA Products is a name you can trust.

Browse our catalogue of reputable, high-quality devices, including the ever-popular HomeGuard smoke alarm and Lifesaver smoke alarm range.