Testing fire/smoke alarm

A while ago, I installed a Rafiki Twinflex fire alarm in the house. It seems I ought to test the smoke detectors regularly (once a year?) using artificial smoke. A quick Google turns up some options including No Climb Solo A3 Smoke Detector Tester Aerosol.
These aerosols are around a tenner, but there also seem to be applicators for £100 and up which look like buckets on poles with means of enclosing the detector and firing the aerosol into the enclosed space.
While a commercial outfit might find the applicators faster and easier to use and possibly they reduce the amount of artificial smoke required, are they really necessary for occasional testing?
While most of the detectors are set for smoke, two are set for heat. Is it sensible to test these with a hair drier (or paint stripper)?
Pete
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wibbled on Saturday 14 November 2009 11:35

I'd just waft a lit ciggie underneath for the smoke ones.

Hair dryer sounds the best best if it can get to the trip temperature. Paint stripper has more change of melting things.
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Before we were given permission to disable the fire-doors from unlocking automatically when the alarms sounded it was a regular game for residents where I work to go AWOL by holding a lit cigarette just under a smoke detector.
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postmaster @ stejonda wrote:

Ours triggers simply by lighting a match beneath, of light a candle then blow it out while beneath the alarm.
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A while ago, I installed a Rafiki Twinflex fire alarm in the house. It seems I ought to test the smoke detectors regularly (once a year?) using artificial smoke. A quick Google turns up some options including No Climb Solo A3 Smoke Detector Tester Aerosol.
These aerosols are around a tenner, but there also seem to be applicators for £100 and up which look like buckets on poles with means of enclosing the detector and firing the aerosol into the enclosed space.
While a commercial outfit might find the applicators faster and easier to use and possibly they reduce the amount of artificial smoke required, are they really necessary for occasional testing?
While most of the detectors are set for smoke, two are set for heat. Is it sensible to test these with a hair drier (or paint stripper)?
Pete
Just put a toaster underneath, throw a piece of bread in, set to full and leave it for a few minutes.
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On Sat, 14 Nov 2009 03:35:25 -0800, PeteS wrote:

What do the instructions say? Mine say to test ONLY with the test button, NOT to use heat or smoke or sprays...
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What make of smokes have you got Bob?
I always just use a can of smoke.
Adam
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On Sun, 15 Nov 2009 07:25:30 +0000, ARWadsworth wrote:

Firex
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Are you sue that the instructions say "Do not use smoke sprays"?
The Firex manual I have only says "Do not test with an open flame"
Adam
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On Sun, 15 Nov 2009 10:10:55 +0000, ARWadsworth wrote:

"The Push-To_test button accurately tests all smoke alarm functions. DO NOT use any other test method".
(direct quote from the instructions in front of me). This is for I240C, GC240, IAR230C, PG240C, PADC240, PAR230C.
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Ah.
My manual says
"The push-to-test button accurately tests all smoke alarm functions. DO NOT use an open flame to test this smoke alarm. You may ignite and damage the smoke alarm or your home"
Tis an interesting point and not an argument.
I have to fit a few smokes next week.
I will see what the "NEW" Firex manual has to say. By "NEW" I mean whatever instructions come with the smokes.
Cheers
Adam
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On Sun, 15 Nov 2009 10:35:04 +0000, ARWadsworth wrote:

Do let me know! I have a can of test spray but have never used it...
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Well the instructions on the Firex smoke that I fitted today quoted both of our views.
I will email them and see what they say about smoke cans.
Adam
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The bucket on the pole thing is called the Solo 330 and has been around for years.I believe it acts as a dispenser to evenly disperse the aerosol into the detector. The canister fits into the base and a sprung loaded plate presses onto the canister nozzle when the Solo 330 is placed around the detector. The dispenser gives a controlled release of the smoke and overcomes the possibility of too much smoke being squirted or being too close and flooding the detector, which what can happen if you don't RTFM. I've used the Solo 330 a few times and it is a nice bit of kit.
The other advantage of the bucket is that it can be attached to poles that are available that overcome the hazards associated with climbing ladders (working at height regs). I guess that’s why the manufactures of the bucket are called No Climb. I borrow a set of Solo poles and dispenser when I need to test any at a height from a mate of mine who works for a large fire company and I find that they do make the whole process of testing easier and safer. But like you lot, I don't do enough testing to justify my own set. Maybe one day.
You will find that most professional fire system maintenance company’s will use a smoke dispenser of some kind. Either the Solo variety or maybe one of the latest type of testers that don’t use aerosol canisters – see www.testifire.com. Most of us sparkies or occasional fire system testers keep a handheld can of smoke in our toolbox, such as the brands mentioned above, which will probably be the best solution for most of you. If you want something a little better, take a look at the SmokeSabre product on this page, looks a fun piece of kit! > http://www.haes-systems.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=77&Itemid=78
All commercial smoke detectors should be tested at least yearly by carrying out what is called a functional test which is done by introducing smoke, or simulated smoke, from the outside of the detector through the vents of a detector to the sensor. IMO this is the only way to be sure that the thing will work in the event of a fire. Would you risk it, if it was in your home? It is also required by standards (BS5839) and testing by electronic means (ie press red button) does not comply with any standards. Which is a bit weird as that is the method that most domestic detectors use.
When it comes to testing heat detectors, using a hair dryer or paint stripper will probably cause damage to plastic case of the detector and the internals which could affect the ability to detector a fire. IMO I would not chance it and would recommend a suitable device that has the correct levels of heat to trigger the detector without damaging it. Would you chance damaging a detector in your home and compromising your families safety? I wouldn't.
Just as a word of warning, if any of you are referring to anything other than testing domestic fire detectors, I would highly recommend that you have a read up of the RRO - Regulatory Reform Order to see what your legal obligations are. You might find that you could be liable to prosecution if you are seen to be either the responsible or competent person by the RRO and you are testing fire detectors in the way that has been described in this thread. You might find this link useful to get a complete picture > http://www.humbersidefire.gov.uk/documents/Fire_Safety/RRO_Information_Booklet.pdf
Hope the above is helpful and that i might of put you off some of the cowboy practices that were mentioned. At the end of the day if a jobs worth doing it's best done right. Especially if someones safety is concerned.
Paul
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... ...

Then why not expand the above and turn it into a smoke alarm entry for the Wiki
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The installation manual recommends "suitable smoke test equipment" and suggests the No Climb product. I am loth to use burnt offerings as I suspect that carbon residues would shorten the life of the detectors.
As there are no replies from people with experience of using such a product, I will get myself a can of No Climb and make up a plastic 'bucket' with a hole in to cover the detector.
Pete
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I test with a can of "canned smoke" by No Climb. It claims to work with optical and ionisation detectors. Says non flammable in one place, and keep away from naked flames elsewhere! I think it came from CPC. You can spray from up to a metre away, so no pole/bucket arrangement is required unless the ceiling is very high, although it may be a good idea to stop you from breathing it or getting it in your eyes.
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Andrew Gabriel
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On 18 Nov, 09:09, snipped-for-privacy@cucumber.demon.co.uk (Andrew Gabriel) wrote:

My canned smoke from Farnell arrived today, and it looks identical to yours. I put the system in test mode and gave a burst at one of the sensors and all hell let loose - lots of 90dB sounders going together. The only problem was that the system didn't reset itself as I expected in test mode but required a manual reset.
The real problem was that some kind of animal must have got into my shed last night and set off the burglar alarm at half past three. I leapt out of bed and having been thinking about the fire alarm, so in my befuddled state I went to the fire alarm panel and in fumbling about I set that off too.
Anyone not awake already certainly couldn't sleep with both alarms going off!
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PeteS wrote:

At work they used to use the enclosure on a pole to test the smoke alarms.
Our hall one gets tested regularly when my other half makes toast without putting the kitchen extractor on. So if you have a portable toaster and some spare bread ....
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PeteS wrote:

A box of smoke matches sounds like a cheap and simple option.
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John.

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