Installing a Smoke DetectorInstalling a smoke detector in your home is an essential DIY task and there is no excuse not to have one installed. They are cheap to buy easy to install and could save you and your family’s lives in the event of a fire. Read on to find out more about how to install a smoke detector as well as some tips on types of smoke alarm and how to maintain them.

Consult Your Fire Brigade

First things first, if in doubt, consult your local fire brigade. Such are the benefits to fire prevention of having smoke detectors in private homes that some local fire services in the UK will not only provide you with a couple of free high quality smoke detectors but they will even install them in your home for free. They can also advise you on other fire prevention ideas specific to the layout of your home. It’s worth asking.

Why Put Up A Smoke Alarm?

You are twice as likely to die in a fire in your home if you have not got one. A smoke alarm is the quickest and easiest way to alert you to the danger of fire allowing you precious minutes or even seconds to escape.

They are cheap.

They are easy to obtain.

They are easy to install.

How to Install a Smoke Alarm

smoke4 It’s easy and only takes a few minutes. Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions. You will need a screwdriver and you can attach the alarm to the ceiling with the screws that come with it.

Most smoke alarms require a battery. Make sure you have the correct one. There will be a tester button to check its working.

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How Many Should I Install and Where?

smoke3 The more you have the safer you and your family will be. Remember though that kitchens and open fires will trigger them off frequently so it’s best to avoid certain areas. At least two is advisable. You should have one on each floor – the hall and the landing ceilings are recommended as these locations cover a wide area and are easily heard from different rooms. The alarm should be at least 30cm away from a wall or light.

20px break  smoke2 If you have just one, put it on the ceiling at the top of the stairs leading to the bedrooms. This is advisable because you will be able to hear it while you are asleep. It’s advisable not to have TVs or large electrical appliances in your bedroom but if so the professionals advise that you should fit a smoke alarm near them.

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Maintain Your Smoke Alarm

  • Once a week test each alarm. Press the test button. The alarm will sound.
  • Once a year change the battery or as recommended by the product instructions.
  • Twice a year open the alarm case and dust or vacuum the inside. A light vacuum from the outside is also useful to remove dust from sensors.
  • Replace alarms after ten years if not before.

Common Problems to Avoid

  • Smoke Alarms in the Wrong Place
  • Not enough smoke alarms for the size of the home
  • Alarms which are not checked regularly
  • Batteries missing or not working

Types of Smoke Alarms

smoke1 There are a variety of models to choose from. Whichever model you choose make sure it conforms to British Standards and carries the British Standard kite mark. Always buy a smoke alarm from a recognisable supplier. There are two main types of smoke alarms. Ionisation alarms are the cheapest and more readily available and are very sensitive to flaming fires and smoke. 20px break Optical alarms are the other main type and more expensive but more effective at detecting slow burning fires. Optical alarms are less likely to be triggered off accidentally. It is advisable to have one of each although it’s still safer to have one of either than none at all.


Alarms nowadays come with a variety of options. Standard battery ionisation alarms are the cheapest. There are alarms though with more powerful batteries – 10-year batteries are advisable which have obvious benefits but are more expensive. Other features include emergency lights, vibrating pads, silence buttons – useful when you are cooking, especially frying – and rechargeable batteries. Some alarms are mains-powered – these need to be installed by qualified electricians. Some alarms connect to each other so that when one senses smoke all the alarms will sound. Obviously more features=more expensive.

Ask The Experts

If you do find it difficult to install a smoke alarm – if you have a problem using ladders, for instance – do not worry but make sure you ask someone else to install an alarm for you. If you do not have a family member or friend who has the time to do this you can always contact your local fire service. They should be willing to advise you.