Smoke Detectors 101: Installation & Maintenance

Smoke detectors are great devices that don’t get quite as much attention as other tools from the realm of fire safety, including various types of fire extinguisher. They kind of stay under the radar but it’s hard to deny their value and what they bring to the table. Of course, prevention is better than cure. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s just not good enough – doesn’t matter how hard we try. We need an additional line of defence. And very first one is a set of high-quality detectors.

Research & Decision Time

First of all, if you don’t have any detectors – it’s high time you bought them. Also, if your current model is over 10 years old, you should replace them. Make sure you do your due diligence and learn about different types, solutions and price points. The selection is truly impressive, so finding something that suits your needs and budget shouldn’t be too hard. There’s no universal advice here, just the general “you get what you pay for” kind of deal. But to an extent. Obviously, some come with fancy features that are not really necessary, but because of those features be prepared to dig a bit deeper into your pockets.

Cover Every Floor

Technically, the bare minimum is one smoke detector per floor, including basements and attics. But the actual number depends mainly on the size and layout of your house. Most experts agree that each bedroom should also have one. It’s very important to try your best to create an unimpregnable barrier – and an efficient system to give you a head start in case of any trouble. They can be installed either on the walls or a ceiling, depending on your setup. Whatever decision you make, bear in mind that they should be placed in the centre of the room. When it comes to the process itself, follow the manufacturer’s instructions – that’s the best piece of advice we can give.

Testing Time

As soon as you’re done with the installation part, it’s time to test them out. You have to make sure they’re working properly, otherwise this whole project makes no sense. It’s for your own protection and peace of mind, not just for show. Each model should have a test button, which you can use in the testing phase to get familiar with the sound. Apart from the initial trial, you should also remember about monthly power tests. Some detectors have a self-testing system but you can never be too sure, so a manual test is still on the table. 


You probably have heard about the fire extinguisher service. It’s a necessary step to keep them in perfect working condition. And detectors are the same way, although the process itself is obviously very different. Let’s take models that run on batteries – they have to be replaced quite regularly. Most manufacturers recommend doing it once a year. The second thing that’s going to drastically improve the functioning of your smoke detectors is cleaning. Dust build-up is a real issue. To avoid it, use a regular rug to wipe dust off the surface, but don’t forget about a more thorough clean-up either. For that, you first have to take the detector off the wall (or the ceiling). Then, remove the power source and the casing. You can try to use a vacuum or a can with compressed air to clean it properly. Once that’s out of the way, put it back together and that’s it – you’re off the hook. Make sure to do it at least once a year as well.

Safe Bet

As you can see, it’s pretty easy – you just have to develop your own system, or a plan, and remember to stick to it. Set a reminder for battery replacement or thorough cleaning, preferably around big holidays, to never miss the deadline. It’s that simple. And the payoff? Your safety.

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