Testing a smoke detector

I am having a security system with smoke detectors installed.
The magnetic switches and infrareds are easy but, how do I test the smoke detectors? (Without setting the house on fire.)
Thanks
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Walter
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Some units have an area to place a magnet
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wrote:

Light a candle and hold it a few feet from the detector. It should begin to squeal after a few minutes of smoke if it's working.
Aspasia
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Ask the installers what they recommend for your particular units, or read the instructions, or call the manufacturer. There are aerosol sprays available, but they might not be appropriate for your detectors.
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Walter R. wrote:

Push the "Test" button?
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Suggest you google "smoke pen". It is used for testing and finding drafts.
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Howard wrote:

Many home inspectors or townships use those smoke pens.
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Howard wrote:

Well, yeah, but wouldn't a stick of incense (about five cents) do as well?
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So what did the installer say to do, ok you didnt ask yet.
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Walter R. wrote:

The smokes used by professionals actually have a built-in magnetic reed switch. Have your installer show you how to test it with a magnet and ask him to leave a manual behind. Be sure to call the monitoring center and put the system on "test" before you do that.... Unless you want to see fire trucks in your driveway.
I prefer testing with "smoke in a can", available at home centers & hardware stores. Be *sure* to follow the instructions, otherwise you can clog the sensing chamber.
Do NOT use candles, cigarettes, matches, (flashlights!?!) or anything else that was suggested by some of the respondents. You could damage the sensitivity of the unit.
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On 4/24/2008 5:37 PM G. Morgan spake thus:

Now that makes absolutely no sense. Unless you're saying that once a smoke detector detects smoke, it must be discarded because it's damaged; are you?
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David Nebenzahl wrote:

Actually, yes. Of course it depends on how much smoke. If it was just set off by the wife burning a cake in the oven, no, of course not. But holding burning items like candles and paper close to the unit can (and will) cause particulate to accumulate in the sensing chamber. See my reply to Smitty.
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