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How to Test an AED to Make Sure It Works

How to Test an AED to Make Sure It Works

How to Test AED Device

The middle of a sudden cardiac arrest event is not the time to discover that your AED batteries are dead or you are out of AED pads. The answer to this problem is to make sure your automated external defibrillators are inspected and tested regularly and any problems are dealt with right away.

With just a few minutes of your time and knowledge of AED maintenance requirements, you can be confident that your portable defibrillator will (most likely) be ready when an emergency arises. The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.

How to Test an AED to See If It’s in Working Order

The following table breaks down the inspection and testing information for our bestselling AEDs.

AED Brand Model Check for Functionality Batteries and Pads Testing Frequency
Philips HeartStart FRx Check for a blinking green status indicator light. Check the expiration dates. Periodically check the device. Also, check after each use.

The device performs daily self-tests.

Defibtech Lifeline DCF-A100 Check for a green indicator light. Check the expiration dates. Suggested periodic checks.

The device performs self-tests daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly.

LIFEPAK LIFEPAK CR2 Check for a green light on the status indicator. Check the expiration dates. Check manually at least once a month.

The device performs self-tests daily, weekly, and monthly.

HeartSine Samaritan PAD 350P Look for an intermittent green light.

A beeping sound or a 10-second red light means there is a problem.

Check the expiration dates. Check the device weekly and monthly.
ZOLL ZOLL AED Plus Check for a green light. Check the expiration dates. Check frequently, as necessary.

The device runs a self-test weekly, monthly, when turned on, and when new batteries are installed.

Cardiac Science Powerheart G5 Check that the Rescue Ready light is green. Make sure the battery doesn’t show a red light.

Check the expiration dates on the pads.

Check periodically.

The device performs daily, weekly, and monthly self-tests.

In addition to the information presented in this table, please note the following details:

  • To test the Defibtech Lifeline AED manually, press and hold the power button until the device announces that it is commencing a self-test. The device will perform charge and shock tests and prompt the user to press the shock button (on semi-automatic units) when required. Please note that running a manual self-test on this unit depletes the battery capacity by one shock.
  • The LIFEPAK CR2 AED allows you to connect wirelessly to check for system readiness. It’s still essential to inspect the physical unit even if the central dashboard says that the unit is ok.

How Often Should AEDs Be Inspected?

An automated external defibrillator should be checked regularly to make sure it is working properly and that all of the parts and components are there. Each state has its own rules about how often AED devices should be checked.

Whether your state requires a monthly or quarterly inspection of your automated external defibrillator, create a checklist of AED maintenance requirements for internal use to make sure these checks are integrated into your workflow.

Important note: AED batteries have a lifespan of around two to five years and AED pads are good for two to four years. However, AED inspections are imperative as even in-date components can fail. Consider having a backup AED battery as well as backup electrode pads in case of untimely failure or physical damage to the components. Because defibrillators are specifically used for cardiac emergencies, every second counts. Making sure the AED is ready and functioning properly is essential for maximizing the odds of a positive outcome.

How Often Should AEDs Be Tested?

According to the CDC, over 40 states require or encourage the ongoing maintenance and testing of AED devices. The exact frequency of testing varies from state to state and defibrillator to defibrillator. Testing AED devices is essential for making sure they are in good working order and for avoiding future liability issues that could arise from a lack of regular tests.

Existing and new AED owners should check their state’s AED laws to make sure they are compliant, as there is no one-size-fits-all rule. Next, check the manufacturer’s guidelines for recommendations on how often you should conduct AED testing and what should be included in each test. Once you’ve worked out your AED testing requirements, these should be communicated to everyone on the team.

What to Do If An AED Fails a Test or Self-Check

If your AED fails a test or self-check, don’t despair! It’s much better to find a problem BEFORE an emergency strikes.


For batteries that are out of date or close to their expiration date, simply replace them with new batteries. The actual lifespan of a battery depends on whether the battery was installed or uninstalled, along with factors like ambient humidity levels and problems like short circuits. So, having a set of backup batteries is also highly encouraged.

Before changing your AED battery, always be sure to check the user manual to confirm the exact type of battery that will work in your AED device. This is essential for the proper functioning of the device and helps to keep your warranty intact.


As part of every AED device inspection, you should check that the electrode pads have not expired. The pads are used to deliver a lifesaving shock from the AED to the patient and expired pads may prove ineffective.

In order to deliver a shock and restart the patient’s heart, the pads are attached to the patient through a conductive gel coating. This coating on the pads breaks down and dries out over time. As the pads dry out, they may not attach as well to the skin, resulting in poor conductivity. This can cause incorrect heart rhythm readings as well as deficient shock delivery.

A note about pediatric pads: Many of our AED devices have separate pads for adults and children. If an inspection reveals that either the adult or pediatric pads are missing, it’s critical to order another pair right away. It is also advised to have an extra pair of defibrillation pads on hand in case the first set becomes damaged or fails for any reason.

Contact the Manufacturer

If you see any damage to your AED, contact the manufacturer for further directions. Oftentimes, you will be instructed to send the AED in to be fixed or directed to the appropriate page in the user manual if applicable.

AED Program Management

For those who would like assistance with rules, regulations, organization, reminders, maintenance, registration, and post-reporting after cardiac events, consider AED program management. AED program management helps you implement state-specific laws and develop an effective in-house program to make sure that your portable defibrillator is ready for an emergency.

AED program management also comes with the benefit of ensuring a detailed and accurate record of inspections and maintenance. This helps you demonstrate your diligence and compliance with laws and avoid liability issues in the (unlikely) event that the defibrillator fails during a rescue.

AEDs Save Lives

Well-maintained AEDs are essential and often mandated for businesses, schools, sports teams, and other organizations that may need to respond to instances of sudden cardiac arrest. Around 16.3% of cardiac arrests occur in public places and it’s critical that a functioning defibrillator be close at hand.

By maintaining and testing your AED diligently, you can rest assured that you will be ready at a moment’s notice to help a friend, family member, coworker, client, or member of the public. Testing your defibrillator according to the manufacturer’s instructions and local laws will also help to ensure that you are covered in the case of a liability issue and can proceed to use the defibrillator on a cardiac arrest victim with full peace of mind.

Disclaimer for information purposes only:

Our website provides information for general knowledge and informational purposes only. We do not offer medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Readers should consult with qualified healthcare professionals for personalized medical advice.

While we endeavor to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided, we do not guarantee its completeness or suitability for any specific purpose. The use of this website is at the reader’s own risk.

By accessing and using this website, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless the website owners, authors, contributors, and affiliates from any claims, damages, liabilities, losses, or expenses resulting from your use of the information presented herein.

Picture of Oscar Aguilar
Oscar Aguilar
Oscar has been with AED Leader for over 8 years. He brings years of Warehouse management, inventory, and shipping experience. He knows the critical role played by public access AEDs, and is passionate about his role in disseminating this life-saving equipment throughout the United States, and internationally. Oscar is a certified CPR/First Aid Instructor, and enjoys assisting in teaching these life-saving skills to the public, often in multi-language formats. Family is everything to Oscar, and when not enjoying time with his large extended family, Oscar pours his extra energy into outdoor activities, sports and his children.

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