What Is An HVAC Fire Alarm

Posted on Oct 15, 2020

Many homeowners are familiar with the regular smoke detector that hangs on the wall in their home – usually a round device with plastic casing that sends off an alarm when there is excessive smoke (for instance, when you burn toast!) An HVAC fire alarm, also known as duct smoke detection system, is a similar smoke detection system that alerts your HVAC system when there is excessive smoke in the ductwork. Since the main job of your HVAC system is to move air throughout your home, residential property or commercial building, the main purpose of the duct smoke detection system is to shut off the fans and blowers in your HVAC system when excessive smoke is detected in the ducts. This helps prevent the spread of smoke and potentially toxic gasses to other areas of the building.

Why Is An HVAC Fire Alarm Important?

HVAC fire alarms are most important in commercial buildings or large residential buildings, such as apartment complexes. These buildings are large, and often have many different people living or working in different areas. If someone burns dinner in one of the apartments on the first floor, the person living on the fifth floor does not want to experience all the smoke and smell. If there is no HVAC system smoke alarm, the smoke from the minor incident on the first floor could trigger smoke detectors on the fifth floor (and probably the whole building) causing a full evacuation. By the time the fire department would arrive, smoke in the upper corridors would have dissipated and no one would be able to locate the source of the smoke. Before this has even happened, the tenant on the first floor has thrown out the burned dinner, opened a window to air out their apartment and ordered a pizza.

This is a small-scale example of why HVAC fire alarms are important; however, there are much larger and more impactful examples of the importance. If there is a fire on the first floor of a large-scale hotel, the smoke could rise through the duct work, causing immediate health issues for those on higher floors. It is important that smoke cannot travel through the duct work to other areas of buildings, as it not only prevents inconvenient evacuations, but can also help save lives. 

In addition, the duct smoke detection system can serve as a malfunction detection system for the HVAC unit itself. If the heating or cooling system overheats and results in smoke, the duct smoke detector senses the smoke and immediately cuts power to the fan motor before significant amounts of smoke or toxic gases are distributed to the building. This is a safety feature that not only benefits the HVAC system and the building, but also the health of those inside the residence. 

What an HVAC Fire Alarm Is NOT

An HVAC fire alarm or smoke detection system is not a system by itself, but instead works with the other smoke and fire detection systems in your home or building. A duct smoke detection system is not a substitute for a smoke detector, early warning detection systems or other regular fire detection systems. Instead, an HVAC fire alarm is part of a greater system of fire and smoke detection that helps keep your building and its residents safe. 

Duct smoke detectors can only detect smoke that enters the ductwork, meaning the air must be laden with smoke before the system reacts. It also means these HVAC detection systems cannot detect more subtle changes in the air, like a smoke detector, so they are less likely to alert the resident to a small fire or smoke issue. In addition, dirty filters or other contaminants can block duct smoke detectors, decreasing their effectiveness. 

Installing A Duct Smoke Detection System 

Are you unsure if your HVAC system has a fire alarm or smoke detection system? Contact the team at Airpro Indoor Air Solutions for regular maintenance or upkeep on your HVAC system, and our team will be able to answer any questions about a HVAC fire alarm. Contact Airpro today to set up your appointment.

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