I just purchased an older home built in 1972. Each room has a little metal
thingie in the ceiling which I was told is a heat sensor.
I don't know if it works, and if it does, how it should work. Is this a
replacement for a smoke alarm?
How do I test it? Do I hold a match near it to heat it up and see what
happens? Does it trigger an alarm?
There are a number of things the home inspection did not cover, the heat
sensor, weight sensitive floor burglar alarms, central vacs etc... that are
outside of what they consider a "typical and normal inspection".
Just trying to figure out what to do with these heat sensors?
They are probably rate of rise heat detectors, connected to a control panel
and maybe a dialer. If so, they are activated by a sudden rapid temperature
increase or a maximum preset temperature. Why not have an alarm company
check out the system
is there a control panel they are wired to? I agree with RBM that you
should have an outfit that works with fire alarm systems look at it.
they are not a replacement for a smoke detector...a smoke detector can
detect a fire much earlier. the heat detector/rate of rise is much
less prone to false alarms, and are used in places like attics and
industrial settings where smoke detectors would not work. but by the
time a fire has produced enough heat to trip one, it might be too late
to get out of the house safely. you should be able to change them to
smoke detectors, but you would need someone who knows what they are
BYTW, don't test them with a match. the ones i've been around pop once
and then need to be replaced.
Get an alarm co out, my heat sensors are only in the kitchen and near
the boiler, mine activate at a high temp, I forget the temp but it might
be 350f. If they are in bedrooms etc a smoke detector could be put in
its place, Your alarm system triggers on open or closed circuit, you
could put many things in its place, a Co, smoke, Ng, cold temp, or
motion sensor, it should be just 2 wires hardwired to your panel. You
need your system tested anyway, a pro can do it, or you can. Heat
sensors are common in dusty areas or kitchens where false alarms would
occur such as when burning food, not in general living areas unless the
previous owner burnt his food regularly.
Heat sensors only trigger after a fire is blazing, you have lost the
minutes you might have needed to escape by the time they trigger. In
areas I have heat sensors I have battery powered smoke+ Co-ng detectors.
Smoke kills most victims of house fires, I would limit heat sensors
My gosh, you bought a fancier house than I expected.
I'll admit, the weight sensor only costs about 5 dollars iirc, maybe
15, but I think it is still rare. This you can test yourself.
I don't consider 1972 old, but I'll admit that then and even a bit
later, all they had were heat detectors, not smoke detectors, so
that's what you've got.
I wouldn't remove them -- I don't like to throw things away -- and I
certainly wouldn't remove the one(s) in the basement -- but I would
put in smoke detectors, one per floor or whatever**. Unless they're
going to have to rip up walls or ceilings to do the smoke detectors,
and they could use the wires from the heat detectors to avoid this.
**You could just used battery powered smoke detectors that aren't
connected to the alarm, but if you are going to have central station
monitoring, you would want your fire alarms to tell them when there's
Sounds outside to me. And I think these can't be tested anyhow. Do
they ever fail? I doubt it.
BTW, my brother bought a house with an alarm and he never used it. I
was thinking at least when they went out of town, it might be a good
idea, so while they were at work, I tried to figure it out. Not to
hard...I armed it, opened a door, heard the siren go off, and disarmed
it which turned off the siren. That project done, I went to the
garage to get his bike to go riding around Dallas.
While I'm getting the bike, the police show up. It turns out that
though my brother had never had any contact with the monitoring
company, the alarm still called them and they still called back. But
since my brother didn't have the same phone number as the previous
owners, they didn't reach anyone or get the password. So they sent
I told the police I was visiting my brother. Not surprisingly, I have
the same last name as my brother, but they didn't ask to see my id or
even ask my name, or give any indication they knew who lived at the
house, what his name was. I had a key to the house, but they didn't
ask about that. I may have told them I set the alarm off by accident.
Of course that must be true, because it couldn't be a lie.
This was maybe 18 to 20 years ago when I was 41 to 39 and looked
younger, and could have been stealing the bicycle, or anything else.
But they just took my word for everything.
I don't know how many times the monitoring company would send the
police without being hired. Maybe only once. They probably got a
disconnected recording when they called the number they had for the
previous owner, but if not, they might have tried until they reached
someone, who would have said they don't live at my brother's address.
Maybe they sent a letter, which my brother would have ignored, because
he didnt' want to use an alarm. The car he has had for more than 3
years has a factory alarm, and the fob is on his keyring, but he
doesn't know how to use it.
Oh, yeah, you might want to get a new control panel, which you can do
without changing anything else, except maybe the keypad.
My friend who does this updates the panels for every new client he
gets, so he only has to deal with one design, and so he can make
changes over the phone. I don't know how he charges for this, at the
start, or if he pays for the hardware and makes it back from the
I would still use my 1979 panel, but it burned out (smoke rose from
it). My friend gave me one he removed from another client, and I made
it work by switching parts from my burned out panel, but it was
erratic after that. Every month or so, it would have a false alarm
when it wasn't even armed.
But it had a nice feature his panels don't have. It would turn on my
hall and dining room lights as soon as I opened the front door. I did
a bit of work to install that and I liked it.
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