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How to test a beam smoke detector

Updated February 21, 2017

Beam smoke detectors, which come with a transceiver and a receiver, have an advantage over spot smoke detectors because you can mount them on a wall or below the level of spot detectors on the ceiling. Beam detectors also sense when smoke builds up over a distance. Projected beam detectors project an infrared light beam to a receiver, activating if the beam path contains smoke for more than eight to 10 seconds. Optical beam detectors detect smoke over wide areas, making them ideal for shopping malls, museums, churches and airports. Before you test a beam smoke detector, tell the proper authorities you will bring the system down for maintenance.

Disable the zone area where the system will be down for testing and maintenance. You will test the system at the receiver. Make certain the receiver shows a flashing green LED. If you do not see flashing or hear an alarm, it means the detector has lost power and the wiring needs checking.

Use the correct side of the test card. The two-sided test card imitates smoke conditions when running tests. The detector's sensitivity setting lets you know which side of the card to use.

Hold the "No Alarm" test filter section over the receiver lens. The alarm should not sound after 15 seconds and the green LED should continue pulsing. Test filters verify the sensitivity setting of beam smoke detectors.

Lay the "Alarm" test filter section over the receiver lens. The alarm should sound within 15 seconds. If the detector does not alarm, check and correct the wiring, then test the unit again. If the alarm does not go off after the second test, return the beam detector for repair.

Reset the beam smoke detector by pressing the reset button located in some models behind the back receiver door. You can interrupt the power momentarily also to reset the unit.

Tell the proper authorities you brought the system back up.

Tip

Read the instruction manual thoroughly before testing the beam smoke detector. Always test beam detectors after installation and after regular maintenance.

Things You'll Need

  • Beam smoke detector
  • Test card
  • Test filter
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About the Author

Chyrene Pendleton has been a business owner and newsletter editor for more than seven years. She is a freelance writer with over 25 years experience and teaches a variety of topics, including alternative health, hair care and metaphysics. Pendleton is a certified television show producer, radio talk-show host and producer, and a computer programmer with a bachelor's degree in computer science.