Replacing a smoke alarm


In our home there are 3 smoke alarms, all wired into the house wiring. All are the same age (about 22 yrs). There's a high pitched noise coming from one of them.
In a recent discussion, one guy told me to replace all of them, not just the one. He said new ones aren't compatible with the new ones. I didn't ask him what he meant about being compatible.
So, can anyone tell me what this means? Do I have to replace all 3?
Thanks, Myrna
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Myrna wrote:

When you say "wired into the house wiring" I'm assuming that a) they are 120VAC units and b) they are also "tandem" detectors, i.e. there's an extra wire or pair of wires between all of the detectors so that when one detects smoke it causes the sounder in all of them to sound. Kind of a fire alarm system without a panel if you will. If that is the case I would believe your source that anything 22 years old may not be compatible with current equipment. If nothing else a 22 year old smoke detector probably has drifted significantly in sensitivity and I wouldn't really trust it to protect me. I'd sleep better at night knowing that they were all new. If you have an ADI nearby they probably have something you can use with your current wiring, just take one of the existing ones in with you, but buy three of them.
good luck,
nate
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Fire departments recommend using battery operated ones that are independent of house current and could be compromised in a fire.
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Butch Haynes wrote:

In many cases 120VAC detectors are required in new construction, and therefore likely it would be a code violation to replace them with battery operated units. However, there are detectors available which are 120VAC and also use a 9V battery for backup power should the 120VAC power fail.
nate
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On Tue, 21 Nov 2006 15:34:41 -0500, "Butch Haynes"

I was gong to say something like this, but I think the best system would be a combination of battery and AC detectors.
Also, I don't want to discourage anyone from safety measures, but these detectors are testable. Hold a burning match below one, and it will sound within 3 or 4 seconds iirc.
Finally a story. I have a lot of smoke detectors, and the one in the basement started beeping to indicate the battery is low. but I have piled things below it and can't reach it without moving everything. So I let it beep for about 3 or 4 months. Yet, when I tried to start the furnace in late Sept, early Oct. and it was smokey, the smoke detector whe off and was as loud as iff the battery were new.. It was plenty loud.. It's been another six or 7 weeks and it's still beeping, more often now I think , once a minute. Now I'm curious how long it will beep. It's been at least 6 months. I'm impressed.
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Butch Haynes wrote:

I'd like to see a reference for this claim. I've seen lots of news stories where people died in fires where they either did not have any smoke detectors, or else had ones with dead or removed batteries. I've never read a story about anyone dying in a fire due to the power to the smoke detector being taken out by the fire. Here in NJ all the new construction homes I see have AC powered units, as does my home. It's a theoreticaly possibility that the power to the smoke detector could be lost in a fire before the alarm goes off, but IMO, that risk is very small compared to having a dead battery.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I got some moderate-priced smoke detectors recently. They have a bracket that mounts on the wall and the smoke detector itself twist-locks into the bracket. But here's the interesting part:
You can't put the smoke detector back in the bracket unless a battery is installed! That's right, a little arm pops up when the battery is missing that prevents the detector from fitting back in the bracket.
Good idea.
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wrote:

The 2 I bought last month were like that. They also contain both types of detectors.
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the real risk is fires cause by flame-powered devices that you're using because the power's out....
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The alarms must be able to "talk" to each other. When one alarm trip, the others will sound. Different brands and different models may not work together.
At 22 years, they should be replace anyway. For the sake of $20, do you want to take chances of the second alarm now working properly? Chances are, the old one does not have battery backup, but the new ones will. That alone is a good reason to replace them.
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Smoke detectors do have a finite life -- the sensors degrade over time and will eventually become non-functional. Typically, fire departments and manufacturers recommend replacing the smoke detectors every 10 years.
So, it's definitely time to replace all 3. You may even want to add some more and ensure your property is up to current code. You'll need to make sure you buy new detectors of the right type.
I'd suggest you check the model number of the existing detectors. It's almost certainly obsolete by now but the manufacturer will likely be able to tell you what current products are most compatible/equivalent.
This is what I did and the manufacturers web site guided me to exactly the right products and plenty of other useful information. With the right detectors and all of that documentation, installation was a walk in the park.
In all it took an hour of research, an hour to run to the store and an hour to install the things. Well worth the effort to make my home and family a little safer.
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if they are 2-wire, replace the noisy one and test the others. if they are 3-wire units, replace them all: that way when one sounds it tells its other two to sound also. more at: http://home.howstuffworks.com/question576.htm and: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_alarm
Myrna wrote:

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Hello Myrna,
All 3 should be replaced bacause of their age. As with all electronic devices, smoke alarms degrade over time, and the failure rate increases over time. Most manufacturers indicate that smoke alarms should be replaced every ten years.
Best regards,
Tim
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Hi, Tim,
Thank you to you and everyone else for your answers and guidance.
I have no idea if my 3 detectors are wired together. When the one in the kitchen sounds (if I broil, it always does), I have no idea if the others are also sounding. Is there any way to tell this? Over the years, we have found many areas where the builder and his workers cut corners. I would not be surprised if this is yet another of those areas.
Myrna
AlarmArm wrote:

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You mean you can't walk into another room, and listen there?

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Mark Lloyd wrote:

I am not stupid, like this response suggests. When the alarm is sounding its ear-piercing wail and the meat is smoking, it hasn't been convenient to run to another level of the house. If that makes me stupid, so be it!
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IT doesn't. It has to be read that way. However, I did notice the likely misinterpretation, just a little too late.

As I said, I never said that.
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Hi, Tim,
Thank you to you and everyone else for your answers and guidance.
I have no idea if my 3 detectors are wired together. When the one in the kitchen sounds (if I broil, it always does), I have no idea if the others are also sounding. Is there any way to tell this? Over the years, we have found many areas where the builder and his workers cut corners. I would not be surprised if this is yet another of those areas.
Myrna
AlarmArm wrote:

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Two ways:
one, simply cause an alarm at one detector and have a helper stand under one elsewhere in the house.
two, pull one down and see how many wires are hooked up to it. If it's only white and black, they are 120VAC but not hooked up in tandem. If there's also a red wire in the box, they are likely tandemed. The terminals ought to be labeled, so you can also tell that way. Make sure to cut the power if you don't have confidence that you can do this without touching any of the terminals. If you think you might want to cut the power, you want to cut the power. better safe than sorry.
good luck,
nate
Myrna wrote:

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