Detectors are to be located on every level of a residence, basement, first floor, second floor, excluding crawl spaces and unfinished attics and in every separate sleeping area, between sleeping areas and living areas such as the kitchen, garage, basement or utility room.  In homes with only one sleeping area on one floor, a detector is to be put in the hallway outside the bedrooms as shown in Figure 1.  In single floor homes with two separate sleeping areas, two detectors are required, outside each sleeping area as shown in Figure 2.  In multi-level homes, detectors should be located outside sleeping areas and at every finished level of the home as shown in Figure 3.  Basement level detectors should be located in the bottom of basement stairwells as shown in Figure 4.

IMAGE - Smoke Detector Location Figures


    To avoid false alarms and/or improper operation, avoid installation of smoke detectors in the following areas:

  • Kitchens:  smoke from cooking may cause a nuisance alarm.
  • Bathrooms: excessive steam from a shower may cause a nuisance alarm.
  • Forced air ducts used for heating or air conditioning or paddle fans:  air movement may prevent smoke from reaching detectors.
  • Near furnaces of any type – air and dust movement and normal combustion products may cause a nuisance alarm.
  • The “Dead Air” space where the ceiling meets the wall, as shown in Figure 5.
  • The peak of an “A” frame type of ceiling “Dead Air” at the top may prevent smoke from reaching the detector.


        The National Fire Protection Association says that while 13 of every 14 homes have at least one smoke detector, almost half of home fires and three-fifths of fire deaths occur in the share with no detectors. Also, there are now more homes with smoke detectors that don't work than homes with no detectors at all.
        A smoke detector will do its job - detect small amounts of smoke and sound an alarm, if the proper maintenance is taken. Follow the manufacturer instructions that came with your smoke detector. This page lists some suggestions to assist you in the care of your smoke detector.

        Check the Battery. To find out how to test your smoke detector, read the manufacturer's instructions. Most smoke detectors have a button that your press; if the smoke detector is working, the alarm will beep. If you hear only a chirp or nothing at all, you need to replace the battery.

        Replace the Battery. The average 9-volt battery needs to be replaced after one year of 'service' in your family's smoke detector. Multi-year batteries, used in some newer smoke detectors, should be maintained as per the manufacturer's instructions.

        Replace the Whole Detector. Even with good upkeep, most smoke detectors have a life span of ten years. Remove the smoke detector, follow the manufacturer's directions for disposing of the smoke detector, and replace it with a brand new smoke detector. Some newer smoke detectors have their ten-year anniversary imprinted on the cover; if you are unsure of your smoke detector's age, it is always better to err on the side of safety.

        Dust often collects in smoke detectors, and it can cause the smoke detector to give a false alarm. The easiest way to remove this dust is to take the top off of the smoke detector and vacuum the inside, using the drapery-cleaning attachment of a vacuum cleaner.

        Most smoke detector's contain a small amount of Americium 241, a radioactive material.  When installed in your home or office this material poses little threat but if broken open it can become a health hazard.  This is the reason that smoke detectors must be labeled as having radioactive content and their manufacturer's must accept these items for disposal as hazardous waste.

    Homeowners can mail smoke alarms and smoke detectors back to their manufacturer by surface or UPS ground mail, marked "For Disposal" or contact the 800 number for instructions:


    Manufacturer's Address

    Life Saver/Frynetics, Inc. 1055 Stevenson Court Suite 102W Roselle, IL 60172
    Code One/Firex/Maple Chase 2820 Thatcher Road Downers Grove, IL 60515
    American Sensors 1-800-387-4219
    First Alert/BRK Brands 1-800-323-9005
    Dicon 3334 Main Street Skokie IL 60076
    Safety's Sake/Funtech 388 N Elliot Creek Road Amherst, NJ 14228