There are two types of smoke alarm. One of ’em ain’t so good.

There are two types of smoke alarm. One of ’em ain’t so good.

Which one is better? Now that’s a burning question.
Also, don’t start tearing apart smoke alarms and playing with the americium. It’s mostly harmless when outside your body but if it gets in there can be trouble.
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37 Responses

  1. Technology Connections says:

    I feel like this should go without saying, but, uh, don’t go playing with that americium.
    Especially don’t eat it. That’s bad.

    • Thomas Mullins says:

      A sprinkler systems eliminates 99% of fatalities and reduces damage caused by fire. You also get a insurance discount. Most fire alarms will sounds just in time for you to wake up for your own roast. You can even buy drop in dry powder fire suppressant systems which are highly effective.

    • Occam's Razor says:

      @Matthew Whiting David Hahn?

    • Matthew Whiting says:

      Boy scout moment

    • Keri Szafir says:

      @Fredashay Klavierstein I know that story, it’s a sad one…

  2. Mack Vann says:

    Not only have you radically improved my dishwasher’s performance; you have also upgraded my home’s fire safety. I very much look forward to the next assistance I didn’t know I needed. Thank you most sincerely!

    • tyler prince says:

      Well if your going the extra mile…

      Pro tip: if you have a refrigerator with black coils on the back make sure your fridge is at least 2″ away from the wall to help dissipate heat more effectively. It will help save money over time with your power bill.

    • E Van says:

      But do you even have a fire extinguisher?

    • Ted Messner says:

      I disagree about the dishwasher, mine works way better with finish pods

    • Nick K says:

      Waiting for a video on clothes washing machines! I’m sure I’m doing it wrong…

    • eidrag says:

      @gudenau even with pull tab, I will use can opener to clean cans afterwards before recycling

  3. mrtboy says:

    Funny story, I replaced all my ionization alarms with newer photoelectric ones, within a week I had one that went off on a regular basis, I took it down and opened it up to see what the issue was. Turns out that a small spider had taken up residence in the light chamber. My best guess is that he would pass through the beam occasionally creating a false positive. The other photoelectric ones have never had any such issues

  4. Xavier says:

    Just here to say thank you for all the great work you do. You’re one of the few Youtubers that actually takes pride in your work and cares enough to make your videos accurate as well as interesting.

  5. RavenLuni says:

    Interesting. I used to use a smoldering candle to test my alarms (stopped trusting the test button after one failed with a real fire). I ended up replacing them all – I wonder if it was just because the particle size was too big.

    • Wren Paasch says:

      I was just wondering if I went up there with a stick of incense if that would work…

    • TheSimoc says:

      I remember a Dicon branded ionizing smoke alarm from 90s, in which the user’s manual contained instructions to test it with a burning match a few times a year! Button test was recommended monthly or something like that.

    • joinedupjon says:

      Yeah the ionisation type are poor at detecting visible smouldery smoke… I was in a locksmiths shop years ago (before the optical type was widely available for diy users) and a lady brought a new smoke alarm back because she tested it with a lit cigarette and it didn’t go off. The alarm was almost certainly fine, they test them thoroughly at the factory – least the branded ones from a legitimate retailer, the shopkeeper just gave her the money back – I expect it was a well known problem in the smoke alarm retailing game – unfortunately it probably meant that the cigarette smoking lady who probably really should have had a smoke alarm in her house more than anyone never got one and probably told all her friends that they don’t work too.
      They’re weak at detecting smouldering cigarettes – but fantastically good at detecting toast.

  6. Illusion-XIII says:

    “The half life of americium-241 is over 400 years, so the sensor could easily outlive you.”

    I like that you said ‘could easily’ instead of ‘will definitely.’ I admire your optimism.

  7. DeviantOllam says:

    Thank you so much for the message at the start… the consideration you show to the broad spectrum of viewers that you have is very kind. Also, very awesome to see content like this which demystifies everyday tech and empowers folk through knowledge. 👍 BTW, has anyone ever tried a product like CRC-2105 Smoke Detector Tester spray in a can? We tried it and were surprised to learn that our smoke detectors didn’t respond to the spray at all. UPDATE: Hah! I should have watched to the *very* end because you do mention commercial testing with spray… the product is on Amazon, BTW. 🥫☁

  8. BV says:

    As a 35 year veteran firefighter I want to thank you. And congratulate you on a very well presented report. As you stated, having alarms, maintaining alarms and heeding alarms is vital.

    • ReivecS says:

      @Justin Time Are you not allowed to replace it with another model with a photo sensor?

    • Justin Time says:

      Even though the damn cursed alarm outside my apartment kitchen goes off every time I cook unless I point a fan at it. I still replace the battery when it beeps. It would be so easy to just rip out the battery and rid myself of this constant nuisance but it just seems like that’s a bad idea (and against the terms of my rental agreement). I do so wish I could replace it though and throw the damn thing into a fire… It literally goes off if i turn the oven on…. Even with nothing in it. When it goes off I don’t run to see what’s on fire. I run to turn on the “cooking fan” as we call it.

    • Chris L says:

      Better to feel the fool being outside in the rain and cold for a false alarm than the smart guy that dies of smoke inhalation if there is an actual fire.

  9. Belias Phyre says:

    The most trouble I’ve had with a smoke detector was when one became faulty and started chirping a low battery signal. Changed the battery with one that was fresh. Still chirped. Tested the battery, I licked it, it was good. The detector kept chirping without the battery. Good to know. Took it outside and smashed it till it stopped. Then kept smashing it till I felt better. Replaced it with a new one.

    • fdmillion says:

      It chirped without a battery? Only way I could see that happening is if a capacitor was still discharging. It would have eventually stopped on its own. (I’ve also never seen this, any alarm I’ve ever had that chirped stopped immediately after removing the battery, even before installing the replacement.)

      Then again, you “licked” the battery, a horrible idea, so maybe, just maybe, you’re exaggerating your story?

    • jlucasound says:

      Just be careful not to liberate the radioactive isotope, whilst giving the little demon a thrashing. 😉

    • John Lewan says:

      I’ve got one doing that now, and it will probably meet the same fate

  10. raedwulf61 says:

    Eight years ago, at 3 am, a fire alarm went off in my daughter’s bedroom. It is an ionization type. We all woke up and rushed into her room. There was no smoke at all, but there was an acrid smell coming from her small space heater. I unplugged it and doused it. That alarm probably saved our lives.

    • HighVoltageMadness2300 says:

      @billybassman21 Correct the oil filled radiators are very safe. The surface temperature doesnt get very hot. Also ceramic space heaters are very safe as well.

    • billybassman21 says:

      @Google Does Evil The surface on the ones that use oil don’t get as hot so they do not set things on fire that easily.

    • Chris L says:

      @Nachotaur Yes, and this is also why it’s recommended to have the bedroom doors closed when sleeping. If the fire starts anywhere other than in the bedroom, you have a slight increase in the time you’ve got to escape the residence before being overcome by smoke. Which is a lot less time with all the plastics in modern houses than it used to be.

    • Google Does Evil says:

      @billybassman21 Those use oil. It would not self-extinguish a fire.

    • billybassman21 says:

      @Nachotaur Yeah but when it’s very cold outside people without central heat have no choice. People should get the ones that use hot liquid for those purpose.

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