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Smoke Detector Placement

Vital Tips to Get the Smoke Detector Placement Just Right

Knowing where to place a smoke detector is crucial when it comes to protecting those who stay in a home. Let's look further into where this device should be installed.
Naomi Sarah
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
Smoke detectors are designed to detect smoke, warning people in homes, restaurants, hotels, schools, colleges, workplaces, and similarly occupied areas, of a fire break out. It is important that you put one in your home, or suggest that one be installed if not already. I've heard of people who've been through traumatic experiences of their apartments being destroyed because there wasn't a fire alarm system. That is why it is more of a need than a must-have to get one installed.
Types of Smoke Detectors
There are two kinds of smoke detectors where each type functions differently. Choosing one that you can rely on is what is important.
Photoelectric Detector
This detector contains a photocell that uses a light transmitter and photo electric receiver to function. Smoke particles in the air are absorbed by the transmitter and is then directed to the photocell. This in turn triggers the alarm. When a smoke detector beeps, it indicates that the batteries have run out and need to be replaced. It is advisable to use alkaline-based batteries when replacing old ones. It is important not to confuse beeping with the sound of an alarm. The beeping only indicates a low battery, while the alarm indicates the presence of smoke or fire.
Ionization Detector
These detectors have radioactive materials in them that ionize air, creating an electrical path. Smoke molecules attach themselves to the ions in the detector when smoke enters it. When the electric current is altered, the alarm is triggered. The radioactive element present in the detector is called americium. It contains only a slight trace of this and isn't harmful. The best place to put these up is in a kitchen, or a place that stores highly combustible material. The detector's ability to go off at the slightest hint of smoke is relatively weak. That is why these are highly unlikely to go off while you cook, since the fumes aren't thick enough to detect; unless something burns.
Where to Place a Smoke Detector
  • One should ideally place one in a bedroom to make sure that a home's occupants awaken when the alarm is sounded.
  • One can even place a detector in a passageway or right outside a bedroom door.
  • Long hallways should have one detector placed every 30 ft (hotels, schools, colleges, libraries, and the like).
  • One smoke detector in every room is advisable.
  • They should be placed 12 inches below the ceiling, but not too low since smoke tends to rise.
  • Place one outside a kitchen or a little away from a living room (where smokers may be seated) to avoid fumes from activating the alarm.
  • Dead air space, which is the extreme corner of one's room at the top where two walls meet, is not a good place to mount a smoke detector. It needs to be placed at least 18 inches away from this area in order to detect smoke better.
  • Avoid placing these close to windows, shafts, air conditioners, fireplaces, or fans (3 ft away), since this can mess the internal workings of the detector (temperature fluctuations can tamper with its functionality).
How to Maintain a Smoke Detector
To avoid smoke detectors going off for no reason, you need to have it checked out regularly for faults, or have it replaced with a not-so-sensitive detector.
  • Test your smoke detectors ideally every month.
  • Batteries should be replaced once a year, or when the beeper goes off (low-battery indicator).
  • Clean the insides of the detector from dust particles and dirt.
  • If problems persist, call a professional electrician to check your detector for you.
  • Test it yourself by pressing the 'test' button to make sure it works fine.
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Smoke Detector