Have you replaced your old smoke detectors?

Have you replaced your old smoke detectors?
Smoke detectors don't last forever. They need to be replaced every eight to 10 years.

"The reason is the sensors can become a little less sensitive after a period of time, so it's a good idea to get a new smoke alarm," said John Drengenberg , Consumer Safety Director at Underwriters Labs. "They're cheap enough and it's good insurance."

That advice goes for both battery-powered and hard-wired smoke detectors. They need to be replaced at least every 10 years.

If you want the maximum protection, make sure you buy a dual-sensor smoke detector; one that's both photo-electric and ionization.

"The photo-electric and ionization type smoke alarms respond to different types of fire," Drengenberg explained. "One would be a smoldering fire; one would be a flaming fire. Having the dual sensors means that regardless of the type of fire, the alarm would give you the warning as early as possible."

It's a good idea to carefully vacuum around the detector from time to time to remove dust and cobwebs that could interfere with those sensors.

For more information

UL: Maximizing safety: proper smoke alarm use

UL: Types of Smoke Alarms

Consumer Product Safety Commission: Smoke Alarms