How do you test your smoke / CO detectors?

Inspired by this thread: Yeah, there’s that button - but honestly that just tells me that the noisemaking part of alarm is working, not whether the device would actually sound in the presence of smoke.

The people we bought our house from said they tested the hard-wired detectors (which have no “test” button:confused:) by standing on a ladder and blowing smoke from a lit-and-extinguished match, or something like that. No way, not gonna perch on a stepladder and put myself at risk of that loud noise startling me and causing me to leap backward and break a bone when the laws of physics take effect.

Then there is the carbon monoxide detector. Ours (current model is a combo smoke / CO unit which is a piece of crap) sounded off the other day as I was walking past it. As, to the best of my knowledge, I exude neither smoke particulates nor carbon monoxide (though after a bean-feast one might wonder…), and no other smoke detectors paid any notice, I’m assuming the device is simply malfunctioning. It’s wanted new batteries 3 times in the past 6 months, anyway, which is a bit unusual. So I have no idea whether it’s even doing what the manufacturer says it does.

I suppose I could remove it from the wall mount, stick it in a large bag, and hold that over the tailpipe of the car while it’s running for a couple minutes. But the neighbors already think I’m weird :D.

My wife’s cooking seems to test the smoke alarm quite frequently. I’m not making this up.

As for a CO, one of my detectors is also the smoke detector. I’m assuming that if the smoke alarm is working, the the CO part is also.

However I have a second CO detector located in a different room. It has a test button that makes it beep, but that might be as far as that goes. recommends testing with low CO levels from a cigarette or incense wand, or with high levels from a CO test kit.

First Alert, who makes the detectors, recommends never testing with anything except the Test button (and specifically they say don’t test with vehicle exhaust).

I’m with you, I’d feel more comfortable knowing the detector actually works, not just that the sound generator is functioning.

Mine too - not from burning anything, she never does that, just from cooking stuff at a high temperature. The detector down the hall goes off, I fan it quiet and we close the pocket door so it doesn’t do it again.

Hah! This reminds me: 3 or so years ago, we left the turkey carcass simmering on the stove after Thanksgiving dinner. We always do this: solves the problem of no room in the fridge plus yummy soup :)… but that year, my husband apparently turned the burner up a bit higher than usual, so we were awakened to the aroma of it scorching, and smoke filling the family room (kitchen with normal ceiling is open to family room with vaulted ceiling).

NONE of our smoke detectors had anything to say about the manner. WTF??? :confused: You’d have thought that with visible smoke that close, at least ONE of them would have gotten enough to sound off. The nearest detector is physically closer to the stove than the family room, and we smelled the smoke a floor away where it must have wafted right past the detector(s)…

Sounds like you already know how to test the smoke detectors. :slight_smile:

And they failed miserably.

Well, they do say that you should replace them every 10 years.

Mine are probably 20’ish years old but get “tested” by high temperature sizzling on the stove occasionally, and when I light my wood stove in the basement when the chimney is cold; so I know they still work quite well.