Home Safety Tips


The smoke alarm is one of the most important life saving tools available to the homeowner for life safety in a structure fire. National Fire Protection Association has credited the advent of the household smoke alarms for most of the reduction in residential fire deaths over the last 25 years; from approximately 10,000 per year to about 4,000 per year. Knowing how and where to install the smoke alarm is what this page is all about.

What is the right number of smoke alarms for your house?

The number of smoke alarms is based on the size and shape of the house. In new construction there will be one in each sleeping room and one in the common area near sleeping rooms (halls) and at least one for each level. They will be hard wired with battery backup and interconnected. In existing homes we recommend one smoke alarm in each sleeping room and one smoke alarm and in the common area (hall) outside the sleeping rooms. They may be battery operated.

Where not to mount smoke alarms?

Places to avoid include:

Near kitchens or bathrooms as smoke from burned food or steam from showers can activate the detectors. Nuisance alarms will cause people to disable or ignore alarms.

Dead air spaces such as 4” along surface from corner of wall and ceiling.

Avoid placing near florescent lights because electronic noise from the lights can cause nuisance alarms.

Where is the best place for smoke alarms to be mounted?

Generally, the best place to mount a smoke alarm is on the ceiling. Wall mounting is OK, but no closer than 4” nor farther than 12” from the ceiling. In fact, wall mounting is preferred in mobile homes, and interior walls of mobile homes are better than exterior walls.

On sloped or cathedral ceilings mount within three feet of highest peak measured horizontally. Always follow manufactures instructions for mounting smoke alarms.

What is the difference in smoke alarm technology?

Photoelectric v Ionization:

Ionizing smoke alarms are most common and are ideal for bedrooms.

Photoelectric smoke alarms are more expensive and are recommended for common areas subject to cooking odors and steam such as in small apartments.

In new or remodeled apartments we are requiring photoelectric smoke alarm in common areas and allowing ionizing smoke alarm in bedrooms.