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Question DetailsAsked on 12/16/2014

How much does it cost to replace a smoke and/or smoke/CO2 detectors? And is there a discount for 2 or more?

I have 9 smoke detectors currently; 3 are smoke/CO2 and 6 are smoke only. 8 are regular ceiling height, with 1 in a cathedral ceiling (requires 12' ladder to reach). They are hardwired into the house electrical system already and contain battery backups.

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Here are several prior similar questions with responses - your savings in doing more than one at a time will probably not be in the form of a discount, but rather in that he can do several in the time allocated to his minimum service charge - so doing maybe 3-5 replacements may be doable for the same minimum visit charge he would charge you to do only one. I would say typically he should be able to do 3-5/hour - maybe more if a very fast worker. Don't forget testing of all alarms before he leaves - I recommend not only test button testing, but also using a spray can of alarm tester to be sure they ACTUALLY work - I have seen a fair percentage that button test OK but do not detect smoke in a can or actual smoke from a smoking piece of rope.

Five other factors -

1) if your alarms are not now interconnected alarms and that is now required by code in your area, you may have to replace with interconnected alarms underthe new fire code. If your area requires hardwired-only ones, that can run hundreds for running the new intearconnecting wires if the current installation was just 120V power without the additional interconnecting wire and then patching the drywall holes and repainting. I ahve seenthat reach $1000 total for a large 2-story house with basement with 10 or so alarms. Some other areas allow radio frequency mutual alarming, so installation is no added cost compared to plain hardwired but the alarm itself is more like $60-100 (down to about $40 at Amazon) versus $25-50 normal range.

2) since you are talking life safety here, if replacing all your alarms at one time for some reason (I can't imagine why unless recalled), consider the advisability of buying several brands if totally hardwired (no wireless interconnected alarming), in case one model ends up having a design or manufacturing defect, so all will not fail to alarm at same time. These type alarms have an alarming (pun intended) incidence of recalls, so while radio frequency alarming pretty much has to be same brand and probably same model series to work right, for totally hardwired systems I would consider mixing brands if that works - but check with electrician on interconnectivity issues.

3) batteries - not to put too fine a point on it, but many brands stink - especially the cheapo chinese or malaysian batteries that commonly come with them. Spend the extra buck or two apiece and get good 9V batteries if they take 9V batteries. I have found Energizers last at least 2-3 times as long in alarms as Duracell, and probably 4 times as long as EverReadys - even though Energizer and Everready are owned by the same holding company. Duracells might get better now that Berkshire Hathaway bought them out - but that is in the future. I have found that Duracells and especially Everready also have terrible acid leakage issues - you very commonly find corrosion ruined thermostats and alarms with them, only once that I can remember with an Energizer.

4) many models now have planned obsolescence - use permanently installed batteries and sensors that have a timer that sounds the dead battery alarm after a designed time from 3-8 years (that I have seen), and either can't be replaced at all (so you have to replace alarm), or have to be replaced with new manufacturer battery/sensor module for a high cost. My recommendation - blow dust out of them and test them annually and buy ones without a mandatory replacement time. My best (most reliable and sensitive) alarms are 30-35 year old First Alert ionization/smoke detection units that just go and go without problems - the newer modular sensor ones are the ones I see failing a smoke in a can test, even though the test button says they are good.

So - your cost- probably about $200-300 labor I would guess, assuming new interconnecting wiring does NOT have to be run - plus from about $200-$700 for the detectors depending on brand and capabilities and if wireless interconnected alarming or not.

BTW - to determine if your current units are hardwire interconnected or not - if so, they will have an added live wire to them from the circuit (usually red but not always) in addition to the usual three black, white, and green / bare copper wires.

A few more prior similar questions with answers that might help -

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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