How to Install a Smoke Detector

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The carbon monoxide produced from smoke can cause people to go into a deeper sleep. A smoke detector can wake a person up and save lives. Follow these steps to protect yourself and your family.

Things You'll Need

  • Lithium Batteries
  • Standard 9-volt Batteries
  • Measuring Tapes
  • Smoke Detectors
  • AC-powered Smoke Detectors
  • Lithium-powered Smoke Detectors
  • Screwdriver Sets
  • Variable-speed Drills
  • Walk through your home and locate the areas where you want to mount smoke detectors. Detectors should be mounted only inside bedrooms, outside of bedrooms and in hallways leading to bedrooms.

  • Grab your ladder and mount smoke detectors high - on a wall or on the ceiling - though the ceiling mount is preferable, as they will go off sooner.

  • Be sure when attaching to the wall, place it 4-12 inches from the ceiling and in turn, mount ceiling detectors 4 inches from the wall. Smoke rises, so if you have a odd-shaped ceiling, opt for the highest point on the ceiling to place the detector.

  • Avoid mounting smoke detectors near windows or doors, where smoke can escape before reaching the detector.

  • Avoid mounting smoke detectors in kitchens, dining rooms or living rooms. Smoke and steam from cooking, fireplaces, candles and so on can cause false alarms. Basements and garages should be avoided also. Water heaters, fumes from solvents, paint or gasoline, and dust from forced air heaters can set off alarms.

  • Follow the directions on the package for mounting the smoke detector once you've chosen the area for the device. You'll most likely need a drill and a screwdriver.

  • Make sure a qualified electrician mounts the device if you choose to go with a detector that will be hardwired to your home's electrical system.

Tips & Warnings

  • In hallways, take care that the detectors are not placed too near bathroom doors. Steam from showers and baths can set off alarms.
  • Test your smoke detector monthly. If it runs on batteries, change them when you change your clocks - at the start and end of daylight-saving time.
  • You may want to consider purchasing a combination smoke/carbon monoxide detector. They are more money, but well worth it.
  • If a smoke detector goes off, you literally have seconds to respond. There is absolutely no time to gather possessions, pets and possibly even each other. Your best response is to leave your home immediately, gather at your prearranged meeting place and call 911 from a neighbor's home.
  • Never go back into the house once you've escaped from a fire.
  • Avoid getting any paint or dust on your smoke detector.
  • Replace all detectors after 10 years.

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