Where to install a smoke detector and its positioning are as important as having this life saving device installed at all. Placing a smoke detector in a wrong location might delay its response to smoke or even prevent it from sounding an alarm at all.
Although, you should install smoke alarms by following device manufacturers guidelines, and the NFPA standards (National Fire Protection Association), your local jurisdiction might have a different idea. This idea is usually LESS smoke detectors – Chicago is one of the examples.
Since it is your life we are talking about, following just a minimum requirement is not enough – for literally a few dollars more, you can get maximum protection.
Proper Placement of a smoke alarm based on IRC (International Residential Code), IBC (International Building Code) and NFPA: cbd ground coffee
- Smoke detectors must be hard wired (power supply from the electrical panel) and require battery backup. Your jurisdiction might require a dedicated circuit for this purpose – if such isn’t required, make sure that you smoke detector hasn’t been installed on a circuit / tapped to the wall switch controlled ceiling light fixture or outlet receptacle. Putting a smoke alarm on a GFCI protected electrical circuit also isn’t a good idea.
- Do not use rechargeable type batteries for smoke detectors, good quality alkaline type battery is the right choice. Smoke alarms shall emit a signal when the batteries are low – replace the battery with a new one as soon as you hear that repeating sound.
- Smoke detectors are required in each sleeping area and adjoining bedroom. Like I’ve mentioned before, some jurisdictions require less – Chicago is one of the examples where smoke detectors are not required inside the bedroom / sleeping area. Instead, you have to install a smoke alarm within 15′ from the bedroom entrance. In larger homes / apartments, where bedrooms are located more than 30′ apart, two or more smoke detectors might have to be installed.
- At least one is required on each story of the house and in the basement. Crawlspaces and uninhabitable attics do not require a smoke detector installation. However, in case your attic or crawlspace contains a furnace, water heater, or any appliance that could become a source of fire (gas, oil, electric), have a smoke alarm installed as well (required by some jurisdictions and highly recommended if not required).
- Smoke detectors must be interconnected – one triggered smoke detector activates all of them. Not all types of smoke alarms have the “interconnection” feature, which is extremely important – smoke developing in one section of the house would activate the closest device and automatically all of them at the same time.