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To test a smoke detector:

Press the battery-test button on the unit to make sure the battery is properly connected. If the unit has a battery that's more than a year old, replace the battery.

Light a candle and hold it approximately 6 inches below the detector so that heated air will rise into the unit. If the alarm doesn't sound within 20 seconds, blow out the candle and let the smoke rise into the unit. If the alarm still doesn't sound, open the unit up and make sure it is clean and that all electrical connections are solid. If, again, the alarm doesn't sound, replace the smoke detector.