How to Install a Smoke Detector the Right Way – So It Works!

How to install a smoke detector

How to install a smoke detectorYou purchased a smoke detector, maybe one with a lot of features or just one that is suitable for your budget—yet no matter how good or expensive the model if it isn’t properly installed you wont be protected. The guidelines outlined in this article will help insure your smoke alarm works when it counts. Today’s homes typically contain more items made of flammable synthetic materials which allow a fire to spread more rapidly than in days past, when more natural materials were used. The point of the smoke detector is to provide you and your family enough time to escape. The more strategically placed detectors you have, the more likely the alarm will sound when trouble arises—giving you and your loved ones the time needed to make an exit. It’s important to know how to install smoke alarms correctly as well as having enough smoke detector coverage if you have a large home.

How to Install a Smoke Detector

  • Smoke detectors should be installed at least 10 feet from a stove or oven to prevent odors from cooking setting the detectors off.
  • Since smoke rises, installing a smoke detector on a ceiling, or near the top of a wall is the best idea. If you’re mounting a smoke detector on the wall, it should be no more than a foot from the ceiling.
How to install smoke detectors in homes with pitched ceilings.

How to install smoke detectors in homes with pitched ceilings. Source: National Fire Protection Association

  • If you live in a house with a pitched ceiling, the smoke detector for that area should be within 3-ft of the top, with a minimum of 4 inches from the top of the alarm to the peak.
  • Avoid installing smoke detectors near areas that could interfere with the operation such as windows, ducts, or any other exit to the outside. Such drafts that occur at these locations could reduce the effectiveness of the unit.
  • Remove smoke detectors before painting. Adhesives, paints or other primers can interfere with the functionality and smoke detectors should never be painted over.
  • Smoke detector systems that are interconnected work best, especially for larger homes. If smoke is detected in one part of the home, all the smoke alarms will sound at once. If you chose an interconnected system, it’s very important to make sure they all come from the same manufacturer or they may not all ring simultaneously.

How Many Smoke Detectors Should Be In a Home?

To answer this question, it depends on your dwelling. The number of bedrooms, how many floors, and the layout of your home.

The following requirements are specific to the City of Tucson, AZ and other cities that have adopted the 2006 IFC with amendments. The Office of the State Fire Marshal applies the adopted 2003 IFC and 2002 nfpa-72 with no amendments for residential dwellings units of 5 or more.

General guidelines for smoke alarm placement:

  • In sleeping areas.
  • In every room in the path of the means of egress from the sleeping area to the door leading from the sleeping unit.
  • In each story within the sleeping unit, including basements. For sleeping units with split levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent levels, a smoke alarm installed on the upper level shall suffice for the adjacent lower level provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal City of Tucson, AZ

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So whether you want to know how to replace a smoke detector or you’re purchasing an entirely new system follow the steps shown above to ensure your smoke detector works when you need it most.