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Smoke Detector Installation, Replacement in Calgary

A smoke detector is the most crucial safety device you have in your home. It can potentially save your life, home and belongings if they are properly installed and maintained. This small electrical device is fairly inexpensive and relatively simple to install. Its purpose is to emit an alarm when smoke or fire is detected. This alarm warning can give you the additional time and awareness to protect yourself and family if a fire starts in your home, especially when you’re asleep.

Did you know?

  • “Every year, 13 000 Canadian families lose their home to fire. Hundreds of lives are lost to smoke, flames, and toxic gases.”
  • “The National Fire Protection Association requires a smoke detector in every bedroom, outside of the sleeping area, and on every level of the home.”


Is Your Smoke Detector Maintained and Installed Correctly? 

It is critical to maintain these devices. I have been in many homes where a smoke detector is installed but either are not working or disconnected. A properly functioning smoke detector will ensure a preventative measure to protect your home against unexpected fires. Below is a list of things, a homeowner can do to maintain smoke detectors.

  • Test the alarm monthly (Note the test button on a smoke detector only confirms that the battery and electric components are working, however, it does not test whether the smoke sensor is working.
  • Replace the batteries once a year or when chirping (note that not all smoke detectors are battery operated)
  • Replace the smoke alarm as recommended by manufacture or every 5-10 years.
  • Note if the detector sounds when there is smoke (If the detector does not sound with smoke this should be rectified straightaway)
  • Note if the detector sounds without any smoke (This may be a problematic detector and should be replaced)
  • Check for physical damage.


Types of Smoke Detectors

There are two main types of smoke detectors that are available for Calgary homeowners:

  • Ionization Smoke Detectors – “An ionization smoke detector electrically charges the surrounding air, and if the charge alters, the alarm sounds. Ionization smoke detectors are appropriate in areas where a fire might escalate quickly, such as a furnace room.”
  • Photoelectric Smoke Detectors – “If the beam of light on a photoelectric smoke detector is disrupted by smoke, the alarm will sound. These smoke detectors work best in kitchens and bedrooms and during electrical fires in walls.”

There are some smoke detectors that combine both ionization and photoelectric technology in one single unit. However, the cost for these units are usually pricier. Additionally, you can also get a smoke detector combined with a Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector. This is especially crucial with homes that have fuel burning appliance. CO is a colourless and odourless gas and can be deadly. They should be placed within five meters of sleeping areas.


How are Smoke detectors powered?

Smoke detectors are either powered by either an internal battery or a hard wired. There are hard wired detectors that also incorporate battery back-up. Ideally the hardwired with battery back-up smoke detectors are the preferred choice as you don’t need to worry about dead batteries or power outages. If you are still using battery powered smoke detectors and are considering installing hard wired smoke detectors, this should be installed by a qualified Calgary electrician.  


Interconnected Smoke detectors

What are interconnected smoke detectors? Interconnected smoke alarm means that if one alarm detector sounds all the detectors that are interconnected also sounds the alarm. There modes of communication between the smoke detectors can either be wired or wireless.


Secondary suites and smoke detector requirements

Smoke detectors must be installed at or close to the ceiling on each floor level for the main residence and suite. Smoke detectors must be installed for all common or supplementary spaces for example furnace room, shared laundry room, common entry area. Smoke detectors must be installed for all bedrooms as well.

All smoke detectors need to be hard wired (120V) and interconnected i.e. if one of the smoke detectors is activated it causes all units in the home to sound.

Carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are also required in each unit. The CO detectors should be located within 5 m of any bedrooms, interconnected and hard wired (120V). Manufacture’s installation requirements and location should be followed. A combination Smoke / CO detector can also be used for this scenario which would eliminate the need for two separate units.


Disclaimer:  Information above is used for informational purpose only and has no legal status and cannot be used as an official interpretation of the various bylaws, codes and regulations currently in effect. Contact your local Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) for the requirements of code and/or for approving equipment, materials and installation.


Additional Resources

National Fire Protection Association 


Do you need to replace, repair, or install a smoke detector? At Westpro Electrical Services our customer’s safety is our number one priority. Call our local Calgary electrician to schedule a smoke detector installation or smoke detector replacement.


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