Frequently Asked Questions

Is it illegal not to have smoke alarms?

Install Smoke Alarms: It's The Law!  Landlords: must ensure their rental properties comply with the law. Tenants: contact your landlord immediately if you do not have the required number of smoke alarms. It is against the law for tenants to remove the batteries or tamper with the alarm in any way

Does Illinois require C.O. alarms?

Illinois requires carbon monoxide alarms effective January 1, 2007. Carbon monoxide (CO) is odorless, colorless, and a tasteless poisonous gas. As of January 1, 2007, homeowners, landlords, and building owners are required to install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors within 15 feet of rooms used for sleeping

How many smoke alarms do I need to have?

Although building codes vary from city to city, most manufacturers and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests placing one in each bedroom and on every level of the house. There should be one in the hallway between the kitchen and sleeping areas. If the hallway is 30 feet or longer, there should be one on each end. Stairways should have one as they act as a chimney for smoke and heat.

How often should I replace my smoke alarms?

Most manufacturers, the National Fire Protection Association (N.F.P.A.) and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) suggest replacing detectors every ten years. The reason for this is the sensor degrades at a rate of about 4% a year, so after 10 years there would be a potential of a 40% failure rate.

Does carbon monoxide rise or stay low?

Carbon Monoxide is slightly lighter than air and diffuses evenly throughout a room. That is why it's acceptable to have a CO (carbon monoxide) detector plugged into an outlet on the wall or a unit mounted on the ceiling. 


Why do alarms chirp/go off?

Smoke alarms can mistake dust for smoke. They chirp to tell the homeowner that the battery is getting low and needs to be replaced. Bugs can also be the culprit because they are attracted to the heat in the alarms.


I changed my batteries in my alarms so why are they still chirping?

The alarm is telling you it’s at the end of its life. The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recommends replacing alarm after 10 years from the manufacturing date. There is a born-on date on the back of most alarms.


What are the different types of alarms?

Photoelectric - sensing alarms may detect visible particles (associated with smoldering fires)

Photoelectric models have an LED light that sends a steady ray of light across an inner chamber. When smoke enters the device, it scatters the light toward a sensor in the unit. The sensor detects the light and triggers the alarm. 

Ionization - sensing alarms may detect invisible fire particles (associated with flaming fires) - (4618) They contain an electrical circuit and a small amount of a radioactive isotope called Americium 241. Americium 241 converts air molecules into positive and negative ions that keep the electrical circuit moving and steady. When smoke enters the detector, it disrupts the electrical circuit and the alarm sounds. Americium 241 isn’t harmful to consumers when smoke detectors are used as intended. It only poses a risk if consumers attempt to disassemble the unit and break the protective casing. 

Is photoelectric or ionization smoke detectors better?

Ionization smoke alarms tend to respond faster to the smoke produced by flaming fires than photoelectric smoke alarms. 

Photoelectric smoke alarms tend to respond faster to the smoke produced by smoldering fires than ionization smoke alarms.


Where should smoke alarms be placed in a home?

Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, on every level of the house, and outside each sleeping area. On levels without bedrooms, also install alarms in the living room or near the stairway to the upper level.


 When one alarm goes off, why do they all go off?

A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds so when alarms are connected to each other to alarm a homeowner of a potential fire no matter what part of the house the fire is located. The homeowner will have more time to exit the residence. A fire doubles in size every 30 seconds so detectors are HARDWIRED TOGETHER to alarm a homeowner of a potential fire no matter what part of the house the fire is located. The homeowner will have more time to exit the residence.

What’s the difference between smoke alarm and smoke detector?

Smoke alarms are self-contained, single or multiple-station smoke-sensing devices typically found in homes, a device that sounds an audio signal to alert homeowner of a potential fire, a smoke detector detects smoke and sends a single to an alarm/monitoring company.