Where Should You Place Smoke Detectors?

Dashia Starr
Updated Feb 11, 2021
3 min read
Smoke detectors are your best line of defense against injuries from house fires. Here's how to install and maintain them for best results.

Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of your home to detect rising smoke from a fire. They should be placed inside or directly outside of each bedroom and common areas, and in laundry rooms and kitchens where fires can originate. To reduce false alarms when cooking, consider installing smoke alarms at least 10 feet away from any kitchen appliances. If you have a larger home, you’ll want to consider more alarms, that are situated in hallways and stairways.  It’s best to install smoke detectors that can be interconnected so you’ll hear the alarm no matter where you are in your home.

Smoke Detector Installation Do’s & Don’ts

For your safety, it’s important to know how and where to place smoke detectors. Here are a few reminders when buying and installing smoke detectors in your home.

Always remember to….

  • Before installing, check to make sure the detector is approved by Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to meet strict testing and safety requirements
  • Read the smoke detector’s manual before installing for proper set-up
  • Check to make sure whether your smoke detector senses ionization or photoelectric fires, or both
  • Install smoke detectors on the ceiling. If you must mount the smoke detector on the wall, it should be placed less than 12 inches away from the ceiling
  • Connect multiple detectors when possible so that all alarms will sound when smoke is detected


Don’t install the detector….

  • On windows or sliding doors as the winds and air may not pick up the heat of smoke or fire
  • In humid or moist areas including the bathroom
  • In areas that easily collect dust and dirt including unfinished attics
  • In cooler rooms such as sunrooms or porches
  • Near ceiling fans or air vents
  • In garages, as they are often not temperature-regulated and the cooler temperatures may not detect smoke or fire


Smoke Detector Safety Reminders

  • Test the smoke detector monthly. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, test your smoke detector monthly to make sure it’s working properly. Most smoke detectors have a one-press test button that shines a light or sounds a test alarm to let you know the detector is working properly.
  • Replace smoke detectors every 10 years. Most detectors only last up to 10 years before needing to be replaced. As a best practice, write down the installation date for each smoke detector so you’ll always know when to replace it.
  • Replace batteries annually. To make sure your smoke detector is working properly, change the batteries at least twice a year. As a best practice, change your smoke detectors when you change your clocks for Daylight Savings Time.
  • Keep the smoke detector clean. Make sure your detector is free of dust, dirt, paint and other particles that may prevent the detector from spotting and alerting you of smoke. Vacuum it at least once a year or more as needed.

Ready to shop smoke detectors?

Home Security Writer

Dashia Starr

Dashia researches and writes on all things home automation and security. She focuses on the latest news, products, and providers to share only the best with you.

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