Cleaning Alarms

Cleaning Smoke and Heat Alarms

As BAFE registered fire alarm installers, we are often asked advice on cleaning alarms. The environment the detector is in will determine how often you'll need to clean it; for a normal household environment with little dust we would recommend once a year. If there is a lot of dust cleaned up on a regular basis from the location of the detector this would be increased to every 6 months.

If you are getting false alarms, it is always worth cleaning the device as it may solve the problem.

Household Smoke Alarms (optical and ionisation alarms)

  • Vacuum the outside of the smoke alarm with a vacuum cleaner, a brush attachment might help in removing accumulated dust on the cover of the alarm.
  • If recommended by the manufacturer, open the battery cover on battery operated smoke alarms and gently vacuum the circuit board.
  • The alarm case can be cleaned with a cloth dampened with a solution of washing up liquid.
  • After vacuuming and cleaning, always test the smoke alarm using smoke from an incense stick, punk stick or a cotton string placed in an ashtray or other suitable non-combustible container.
  • Household Heat Alarms

  • Vacuum the outside of the heat alarm with a vacuum cleaner, a brush attachment will help in removing accumulated dust on the cover of the alarm.
  • The alarm case can be cleaned with a cloth dampened with a solution of washing up liquid. Any cleaning should always be followed by functional testing.
  • After vacuuming, test the heat alarm using a hair dryer holding it about 10cm from the detector.
  • There is no other way of cleaning heat alarms and it is not required as much as a smoke detector as it only detects heat so being a little dirty is not going to affect the alarms working performance.
  • Heat alarms are not as sensitive to dust as smoke alarms and therefore performance is not as greatly reduced as smoke alarms . However it's a good idea to check the alarm and cleaning can be done at the same time.
  • Commercial Alarms: Hochiki Optical Smoke Detector

    We only recommend internal commercial alarm cleaning to be completed by qualified service personnel.

    1. 1. To clean the outer case and plastic cover, use a brush for the dry dust and dirt. The detector case can also be cleaned with a cloth dampened with a solution of washing up liquid.
    2. 2. Vacuum the exterior of the smoke detector with a vacuum cleaner and again a brush attachment will help get off all the dust..
    3. 3. If the detector is still giving false alarms it may still need to be cleaned further by opening the optical chamber.
    4. 4. To open the old type of Hochiki detector (the more square type), carefully remove the outer cover of the detector by gently releasing the three larger outer cover clips with a small screwdriver; this clip is visible from the rear of the detector. It is not necessary to use any excessive force. Proceed to clean the inside of the removed cover using the brush.
    5. 5. To clean the inside optical chamber you will need to remove the chamber cover. This is achieved by holding the cover around the edges and slowly pulling it off, it should unclip quite easily.
    6. 6. Very carefully and gently remove all dust and dirt from the underside of the cover and the chamber itself with a soft brush.
    7. 7. Re-assemble all parts of the detector making sure the optical chamber is fully clicked back in to position with no gaps.
    8. 8. Test the smoke detector once back in position.

    Commercial Alarms: Hochiki Ionisation Smoke Detector

    We only recommend internal commercial alarm cleaning to be completed by qualified service personnel.

    1. 1. Repeat steps 1 - 2 but do not remove the optical chamber as the radioactive parts of the detector will be exposed.
    2. 2. The detector will have to be tested, if the detector still activates after steps 1 - 2 return detector to Hochiki to be refurbished or replace detector.
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