How to Install Smoke Detectors in a Suspended Ceiling

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A smoke detector is essential to the safety of a family in the event of a fire.
A smoke detector is essential to the safety of a family in the event of a fire. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Installing smoke detectors in a home is essential to keeping a family safe in the event of of fire. A room with a drop or suspended ceiling can present a particular challenge to the installation. The base of the smoke detector must be anchored to a surface solid enough to support the smoke detector's weight. This is achieved in the case of a drop ceiling by backing a ceiling tile with a stronger material so that the smoke detector will be properly anchored.

Things You'll Need

  • Pencil
  • Smoke detector
  • Utility knife
  • Circular saw
  • 1/5-inch plywood
  • Phillips screwdriver

Remove the ceiling tile from the grid in the location where you want to install the smoke detector. Push the tile up, then turn it sideways to slide it down through the grid.

Set the ceiling tile on a piece of plywood and trace its edges with a pencil.

Cut the plywood on the lines you traced, using a circular saw. Ensure the piece of plywood is the same size as the ceiling tile.

Put the smoke-detector base on the ceiling tile in the desired location, and draw a circle around its edges with a pencil. Ensure that the circle is as close to the edge of the smoke-detector base as possible.

Cut out the circular shape of the smoke-detector base on the ceiling tile, using a utility knife.

Lay the ceiling tile evenly on the piece of plywood and trace the cutout onto the plywood, using a pencil. Remove the ceiling tile.

Install the base of the smoke detector onto the piece of plywood on the circle you traced. Use a Phillips screwdriver to insert the two screws through the base and into the plywood.

Place the plywood on top the ceiling tile with the smoke-detector base sticking through the hole you cut in the tile. Install the plywood and the ceiling tile together into the ceiling grid.

Attach the smoke detector to the base by putting it up to the base and twisting it clockwise.

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