Installing a Smoke Detector

by April Reinhardt
(last updated May 3, 2013)

Having properly functioning home smoke detectors helps safeguard a person against sleeping through a fire. They save millions of lives each year. Installing smoke detectors is easy to do and, in almost all instances, having smoke detectors in residential homes is the law. New home construction laws require that contractors install smoke detectors according to local and national fire codes. In the United States, the National Fire Protection Association published standard NFPA 72, which specifies "...the application, installation, location, performance, inspection, testing, and maintenance of fire alarm systems, fire warning equipment and emergency warning equipment, and their components..." and requires that local fire departments enforce the code.

Before you can install smoke detectors, you first need to know where to place them in your home and how many you need. Since smoke rises, mount smoke detectors high on a ceiling or wall. If you place a detector on a wall, the top of the alarm should be no more than ten inches from the ceiling. Ceiling-mounted detectors should be placed at least five inches away from the nearest wall. If you've a vaulted ceiling in your home, mount the ceiling alarm near the highest point of the ceiling.

If you have a basement stairway with a door at the top of the stairs, mount the smoke detector at the bottom of the stairway, since dead air at the top of the stairway could prevent smoke from being detected by an alarm at the top of the stairs.

At minimum, you need to install one smoke detector on every floor of your home, including the basement. If family members sleep with bedroom doors closed, you need to install smoke detectors in each bedroom. Also install smoke detectors in living areas such as the living room, den, study, play room, and dining room. Never install a smoke detector in a garage or attic.

Do not install smoke detectors near furnace or air conditioner registers, windows, or anywhere the home has a constant draft, nor in kitchens or bathrooms where steam from hot water may falsely trigger the smoke detector.

Now that you know where to install them and how many you need, follow these simple steps to install a smoke detector:

  1. Purchase smoke detectors from your local hardware or home improvement store. Make sure that you buy quality smoke detectors.
  2. Purchase enough 9-volt batteries to power the smoke detectors.
  3. Open each package at home before installing the detectors, insert the batteries, and test the alarm on each detector.
  4. Read and follow all of the manufacturer's instructions for mounting your smoke detectors to the ceiling or walls.

Once you've mounted the smoke detectors, you need to test them again by pushing the test button on the cover. This ensures that nothing became disconnected as you mounted the detector. Follow a regular schedule to test your smoke detectors once a month and change the batteries twice yearly.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

MORE FROM APRIL

How to Pack a Truck

Before you rent a moving truck, take a complete inventory of your home. When you decide the size of truck you need, rent ...

Discover More

Keeping Pool Water Sparkling Clean

Clearing away obvious dirt and debris will help keep your pool water sparkling clean, but you also need to test your ...

Discover More

Installing a Pocket Door

Although pocket door kits include most of the hardware you will need to install your door, you may need to buy a handle. ...

Discover More

Cordless, Compact, and Powerful! DeWalt's 18-volt drill-driver kit packs a big punch in a small package, with a powerful high-performance motor tucked away inside a compact design. A great addition to the tool chest of any professional or DIYer! Check out DeWalt 18-Volt Drill/Driver Kit today!

More Home Improvement Tips

Home Electrical Safety Inspection

It is always a good idea to periodically inspect your home to make sure that it is safe, this includes checking to make ...

Discover More

Locating the Utility Shutoff Valve

Locating the utility shutoff valve is perhaps one of the most important skills for any homeowner to have. By knowing ...

Discover More

Removing Asbestos

Asbestos used to be an extremely popular, though ultimately dangerous home insulating material. Removing asbestos has ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured home improvement tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one minus 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Receive an e-mail several times each week with a featured home improvement tip. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)