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Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors identify and alert you to dangerous substances in your home. So it is very important you have enough of both types of detectors in your home and that they are installed correctly.

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We can ensure your smoke and CO detectors are in working order. We can help you understand how far many you need in your home and best practices to keep your detectors functioning. 

Smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detector Installation in Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer
Edmonton Smoke Detectors & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Everyone, no matter if you live in Edmonton or Osaka, wants to keep their family safe. And smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are important parts of your home’s safety defense systems. They both detect and alert you to substances that are very dangerous to you and your family. They are early warning systems allowing you to take action and keep your family safe and healthy. 

There are similarities in how the two detectors are installed and powered but they measure very different things and you need both in your homes.

Residential Electrical Services

Smoke Detectors


Smoke detectors sound an alarm when it detects smoke in your home and alerts you to a possible fire. They are an inexpensive way to keep your family safe and save lives.


How do they work?


There are two common types of smoke detectors and each detects smoke from different types of fires.


  1. Ionization Smoke Detectors – contain two electrically charged plates containing a small amount of safe radioactive material. This material ionizes the air and when smoke enters the detector it disrupts the flow of ions and causes the alarm to sound.

    • Good at detecting fast moving fires which produce lots of flames

  1. Photoelectric Smoke Detectors – contain a light source aimed into the sensing chamber. When smoke enters the chamber the light reflects off the smoke, triggering the alarm. 

  • Good at detecting smoldering fires. They are slow burning and don’t have a lot of flames but they have lots of smoke.

Your best bet is to get a dual sensor smoke detector alarm that uses both technologies and detects smoke from both types of fires.

Where do I install smoke detectors?
You need to install smoke detectors where people are in your home. They are not helpful if installed in the basement and you sleep two floor ups. At a minimum, you should have one of each type of smoke detector on every floor of your home. When installing the detectors, place them on the ceiling or high up on the wall following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Also, think about getting interconnected detectors. The great thing about interconnected detectors is if one smoke detector detects smoke and is triggered, all the detectors will sound the alarm.


There are exceptions to having a detector in all spaces where your family spends its time. Don’t install them in kitchens, garages, or bathrooms. This is because dust, steam, and exhaust can set off nuisance alarms (false alarms). Other places to avoid installing a smoke detector are near a window or register. Drafts from windows and vents can affect alarm operation and sensitivity.


Under Alberta law, all dwellings (including rental units) must have smoke detectors. In addition, many municipalities have building codes related to smoke detectors. Please check your local building code requirements.

How are smoke detectors powered?

Smoke detectors can be powered by batteries, plugged into an outlet, or hard wired into your home’s electrical system. The last type of detector has a backup battery in case the power goes out. If you choose a hard wired smoke detector, please have a licensed electrician install it for you. You don’t want to risk making a mistake when installing something so important to the safety of your family.

What kind of maintenance and testing do I need to do?

To keep your smoke detectors in good working order, it is important to keep them clean and please don’t paint or decorate them. Regular vacuuming with a soft bristle attachment is recommended and always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions. Please, never use water, cleaners, solvents, or air compressor machines to clean your alarm, they can cause damage.

It is important to regularly test your smoke detector to make sure it is working. Every month press the test button to ensure your detector is still receiving power. In the middle of a fire is not the time to realize you need to replace the batteries.

Another test you can do is a smoke test. Blow out a candle near your smoke detector and let its smoke drift towards the alarm. The alarm should sound within 20 seconds. You can turn off the alarm by fanning the smoke away.

Did you know smoke detectors expire? Well they do. The replace by date should be located on the back of your detector. They should be replaced every 10 years.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide detectors detect carbon monoxide and most sound an alarm when a certain level is detected in your home. 

What is carbon monoxide?

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, tasteless, and odorless gas that is a byproduct of incomplete combustion of materials containing carbon. At the right levels, carbon monoxide can kill you or leave your with permanent respiratory and brain damage.

The initial symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are easy to overlook because they are similar to flu symptoms (headaches, nausea, lightheadedness, and confusion).

What produces carbon monoxide in my home?

There are a number of potential carbon monoxide sources in your home and garage. They include all fuel burning appliances (i.e. gas stoves and fireplaces), water and space heaters, clogged chimney flues, furnaces, barbeques, and vehicles (the exhaust fumes).

How do carbon monoxide detectors work?

There are three types of carbon monoxide detectors, each using a different style of sensor.

  1. Biomimetic sensor – contains a gel. The gel changes color when it absorbs carbon monoxide, and this colour change triggers the alarm.

  2. Metal oxide semiconductor sensor – contains a silica chip. When the silica chip detects carbon monoxide, it lowers the electrical resistance, and this change triggers the alarm.

  3. Electrochemical sensor – contains electrodes in a chemical solution. The electrodes sense changes in electrical currents when they come into contact with carbon monoxide and this change triggers the alarm.

Not all carbon monoxide detectors sound an alarm when they detect a dangerous level of carbon monoxide. Be sure you buy one with an alarm. Also, get one with a testing button.

Where do I install carbon monoxide detectors?

Install carbon monoxide detectors in the same places you install your smoke detectors. Local codes in Alberta state a carbon monoxide detector needs to be installed within five meters of each bedroom.

Unlike smoke detectors, you can install a carbon monoxide detector in your kitchen and garage. You should also consider placing one in the same room as your wood burning fireplace.

Like smoke detectors, there are building codes relating to their use and installation. Please check with your local government.

How are carbon monoxide detectors powered?

Like smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors can be battery powered, plugged into an outlet, or hard wired directly into your home’s electrical system. Hard wired detectors have a backup battery in case the power goes out.

What kind of maintenance and testing do I need to do?

The maintenance of carbon monoxide detectors is similar to the maintenance for smoke detectors. Please follow the manufacturer’s instructions and test your carbon monoxide detector monthly.

Both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are important pieces of equipment in keeping your family safe. They detect harmful substances and alert you to the danger, giving you time to remove yourself from the situation. An investment in purchasing and installing these detectors gives you a huge return. Peace of mind and a safe family.

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