Installing a smoke detector is an easy task, but choosing the right detector and deciding where to install it requires a little forethought and information.
Step 1: Choose the right detector. There are two basic types of smoke detectors, photoelectric and ionization. Ionization detectors are less expensive and work best in flaming fires indicative of fuel-related fires and fires where air has easy access to the flames. Ionization detectors should be installed near furnaces and gas-burning appliances. Photoelectric smoke detectors are more sensitive to smoldering fires caused by the slow burning of foam, fabric or paper materials. This type of detector is the best choice near bedrooms and areas containing upholstered furniture or paper products such as books and magazines. Dual-sensor detectors, which function well in both smoldering and fast-burning fires, are the best alternative for general home use.
Step 2: Purchase enough detectors to install alarms near all sleeping areas and at the top of each stairway. If there is a room where someone sleeps with the door closed, install an additional detector inside the room. Install a detector in any area where electrical appliances, such as a portable heater, are operated. Do not install alarms within 3 feet of a kitchen or bathroom door, near forced air ducts or in areas where the temperature may fall below 40 degrees or rise above 100 degrees. Attics, garages and dusty or humid areas are also poor choices for detector installation. Do install a detector on each floor of a multi-level home.
Step 3: For ceiling-type installations, mount the detector at least 4 inches from the side wall. If you choose to mount a detector on the wall, position the top edge of the detector at least 4 inches, and no more than 12 inches, from the ceiling.
Step 4: When installing a detector into drywall, drill a 3/16-inch hole to accommodate the plastic anchors for the mounting screws. For plaster or wooden beam installation, screws can be driven directly into the ceiling or wall. Follow the installation instructions for each detector that you purchase. Typically the detectors will come with a mounting bracket and mounting hardware, so all you will need is a screwdriver, a ruler, a pencil and possibly a drill.
Step 5: Once installed, test the alarm by depressing the test button for at least five seconds. The alarm should sound off, letting you know that you have once again completed a successful home project.