Did you know that there are recommended and non-recommended places to install smoke alarms in your home?
While many people take the time to consider where they should place their smoke alarms, often it is in the wrong place in the home, meaning that the alarms may not offer the protection they should.
Let’s take a look at the best places, and the worst places to install smoke alarms in your home.
- The best places to install a smoke alarm
Quite often homeowners will install a smoke alarm in the kitchen area, and in the living areas but forget about the bedrooms. These however are very important locations for an interconnected smoke alarm – you may not hear the smoke alarm sounds at night while asleep with your bedroom door closed if a detector is installed in the kitchen, but you will certainly hear it if it is installed in your bedroom.
With new legislation in place, the Queensland Government requires smoke alarms to be installed in the following ways:
- One on each storey of the home
- One in each bedroom
- One in each hallway that connects bedrooms and the rest of the home
- If there is no hallway, one between the bedroom and other parts of the storey
- If there are no bedrooms on a storey, at least one smoke alarm must be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling.
While this legislation is currently in place for tenanted homes and new homes, the legislation comes in for owner occupied properties as of the 1st January 2027 – but why wait until then.
Don’t live in Queensland? That doesn’t matter – the placement of the alarms is essential, and the more you have, the more likely your family is to get out of a burning home safer.
- The worst places to install a smoke alarm
Of course, while there are some great places to install a smoke alarm, there are some places that certainly aren’t recommended. This list below are the places you should not place a smoke alarm in your home, simply because they will not work correctly, or will not alert you in case of a fire in time.
- Bathrooms – the steam from a shower can set off the alarm
- Near fans – smoke alarms placed within 1 metre of the tip of a fan blade may not work as the fan would push smoke away
- Near air conditioners or vents – similarly, air from air conditioners and vents could push the smoke away
- Near windows and sliding doors – again, the draught of air coming through windows and doors means the detector may not pick up the smoke
- Within about 30 cm of room corners – these are dead spaces and it can take the smoke longer to reach these areas
- Near the kitchen – keeping the smoke alarm at least 3-4 metres from the kitchen will minimise false alarms from steam
By taking the time to plan out where your smoke alarms will be installed, you can minimise false alarms, and ensure that should there be a fire, your family will be protected.
- How to choose the right smoke alarm for your home
The best smoke alarms on the market, and the ones that provide the best protection, are photoelectric interconnected alarms. Photoelectric alarms respond much faster to smouldering fires, which are the types of fires more likely to happen in homes. Interconnected alarms allow the entire house to be aware of a fire – if one alarm sounds, they all sound. While this may be annoying in the event of a false alarm from steam or dust, it will go a lot further towards saving your life in the event of a fire.
You may choose to have your interconnect alarms hardwired into the house, which simply means that they run off your power supply with a battery back-up. You will still need to change the alarm every 10 years, and maintain and check them regularly. If you don’t want to go to the expense of an electrician but still want to keep your family safe, we have a range of quality self-install photoelectric interconnected smoke alarms that are easy to install.
- Tips for installing a smoke alarm yourself
If you’ve decided to install the smoke alarms yourself, we’ve got some handy tips for you, so that you can be sure they are installed correctly and provide ultimate coverage.
The first point is to install smoke alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions. While most smoke alarms look the same, sometimes there are some differences to how they should be installed. Incorrect installation may mean your smoke alarm doesn’t work, which could also void your insurance.
Keeping in mind that your smoke alarm should not be installed within 30cm of a wall, measure and mark the distance on the ceiling, and then using the base place bracket in that area, mark the drill points on the ceiling.
Drill the holes according to what you have marked. If you are drilling straight into the plasterboard, ensure you use plasterboard anchors to reinforce the holes.
Place the battery into the back of the alarm, and then place the alarm onto the baseplate. Pop the battery in while you are standing on the floor, and then once it is in place, use the test button to make sure it is working correctly.
If you are unable to safely work from a stepladder, either ask a friend or family member to install your smoke alarms for you, or call an electrician.
- How to maintain your smoke alarm
Smoke alarms need to be maintained to ensure they continue to work correctly. Apart from checking them via the test button monthly, you should keep them clean from dust and debris as this can stop them from working properly. Next time you vacuum, run the vacuum head over and around the smoke alarm.
Replace any removable batteries annually, and never paint over your smoke alarm.
If your alarm does happen to go off due to steam or cooking smoke, open doors and windows, turn on fans, and wave a tea towel near the alarm until it stops beeping. If your alarm has a hush button, you can also use this.
Smoke alarms save lives. Ensure your smoke alarm is installed in the right location in your home for peace of mind.