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. ...

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