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Your Place: Replace Ionization Smoke Alarms

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By Alan J. Heavens

As the association and Underwriters Laboratories study alarm performance to determine whether the standards should be changed, the home inspectors’ group is advocating replacement of ionization alarms with photoelectric ones.

Skip Walker, the home-inspection group’s point person, said that in one UL study, “ionization alarms failed to trigger at all in 91 percent of tests for smoldering fires in synthetic materials such as mattress foam and nylon carpet.”

Although the fire-protection association recommends both varieties and supports use of the dual alarms now available, a Consumer Product Safety Commission study found that combination models produced twice as many nuisance alarms as those with only one sensor.

The home-inspectors group cited a Texas A&M University risk analysis that found that in smoldering-ignition fires, the probability of fatality because of alarm failure was 55.8 percent for ionization versus 4.06 percent for photoelectric. In flaming-ignition fires, it was 19.8 percent for ionization, versus 4.06 percent for photoelectric.

Regardless of which type you use, make sure your alarms work, experts say.

©2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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