Smoke detectors are installed in a house to receive a warning about the possibility of a fire or start of fire. In most cases, the detectors can detect smoke particles fairly early to give you a clear warning to make a safe exit. In case, the fire is small it can even get controlled if it is noticed at the right time. However, the correct placement and installation of a detector needs to be correct for optimum performance.
Guidelines for Installing Smoke Detectors
Different states and different jurisdiction might have different guidelines pertaining to the installation and placement of a detector. Also, the requirements differ for existing and new constructions. Let us understand the various requirements that are broadly applicable in most jurisdictions.
For a new construction, it is essential to have a hard-wired system that supports the entire network of detectors. It must be planned during the construction stage itself and some guidelines might mandate the presence of a separate circuit. However, it is always wise to avoid an electric circuit that is used that is controlled by a switch.
A smoke detector must be installed in all the sleeping areas and adjoining bedrooms. Certain jurisdiction do not require installation to be made in the bedroom, rather it can be done at 15 inches from the entrance of the room. However, when it comes to safety it is always better to do the needful even if it is not mandatory as per law.
The entire network of detectors must be interconnected so that all of them get activated as soon as even one of the alarm trips. This is also the best form of security as with interconnected systems you will be able to hear an alarm related to a problem in any part of the building.
One detector must be installed on each floor of the house and the basement should get covered as well. Also, it is advisable to use alkaline batteries in place of rechargeable batteries as they are more reliable. Replace the batteries as soon as the detector signals about low battery.
In case of existing connections, there is no need to go for hard wiring if the finishes get disturbed and need to be removed. However, a wireless interconnected system can provide the similar kind of protection (though not mandatory as per law). Also, old detectors and alarm systems should be checked regularly to make sure that they are functioning appropriately.
A detector must be installed on the top floor ceiling where an interior staircase opens up so as to detect any smoke in the lower floor as well. Other than this, in absence of interconnected system, an alarm should be so loud that it can be heard from a distance and in all corners of the house with some background noise as well.
A detector on a ceiling must not be placed closer than four inches to a sidewall or corner. In case it is installed on the wall, distance from the ceiling should be between four and twelve inches.