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How to Install a Smoke Detector


Smoke detectors are an essential safety tool to have around in case of a fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a 2008 survey concluded that 41 percent of home fires occurred in homes without working smoke alarms [source: NFPA]. Here's how to help protect your family and home by installing smoke detectors:

  1. Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, in each bedroom and outside every sleeping area of your home [source: firesafety.gov]. They should either be installed on the ceiling at least 4 inches (10 centimeters) away from the wall or high up on a wall 4 to 12 inches (10 to 34 centimeters) from the ceiling [source: NFPA].
  2. Install dual sensor smoke alarms that combine ionization and photoelectric fire detection methods [source: USFA].
  3. Have a professional electrician install each unit that's wired directly to your home's electrical system [source: USFA]. Hard-wired smoke alarms should have battery backups in case of power failures. Consider having your smoke alarms interconnected so that when one alarm is tripped, every alarm will go off to provide an early warning to those in other parts of the house [source: NFPA].
  4. Install your battery-powered smoke detectors by simply screwing them into the ceiling or wall. Some smoke detectors come with an adhesive-like mounting tape for even easier installation. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to make sure you do everything right [source: USFA].
  5. Test your newly installed smoke alarm. Directions for testing the smoke alarms are usually included with the manufacturer's instructions, and often involve simply pressing a button.
  6. Test your smoke alarm once a month and replace the batteries every year [source: USFA].

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