Installing Your Smoke Alarms


  • Install a smoke alarm on every level of your home, including the basement, and outside the rooms where people sleep. The Home Safety Council recommends installing additional smoke alarms inside each bedroom or sleeping area.
  • Smoke rises, so smoke alarms should be mounted high on walls or ceilings. Ceiling mounted alarms should be installed at least 4 inches away from the nearest wall; wall-mounted alarms should be installed 4 to 12 inches away from the ceiling.
  • When possible, the Home Safety Council recommends using interconnected smoke alarms. Hard-wired, interconnected alarms with battery back-up run on your household wiring and are tied tin together so that if one alarm operates, they all signal together. Also, wireless technology is now available to enable home to have an interconeected smoke alarm system that can be installed independent of household wiring.
  • Smoke alarms should be replaced with new units every 8-10 years.

To help avoid "nuisance" alarms...

  • Choose an installation location that is well away from the path of steam from bathrooms and cooking vapors from the kitchen. They should be at least 20 feet from appliances like furnaces and ovens, at least 10 feet from high humidity areas like showers and laundry rooms, and at least 3 feet from heat/AC vents.
  • Place smoke alarms well away from windows, exterior doors, and air ducts, where drafts can interfere with their operation.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least once a month, following the manufacturer's instructions, or push the "test button" on the face of the alarm cover. Install fresh batteries at least once a year; sooner if the alarm makes a regular chirping signal, indicating low battery power.

If you experience nuisance alarms, don't remove the battery...

  • Move the alarm to a more suitable location.
  • Purchase alarms with a hush button feature.

All visitors: Download a free reproducible fact sheet on smoke alarms in reported U.S. home fires. (PDF, 53KB)