Checklist for smoke detectors in your home

Posted in: Electrical Tips for the Home


The humble smoke detector has the potential of being the most important investment you’ll ever make. If the unthinkable happens and a part your house catches fire, it will give you enough time to save your family, yourself and hopefully your house. Smoke detectors must be installed properly and be in good working order, yet need not necessarily be installed by an electrician. If not, they become just a piece of junk on the ceiling that will do little or nothing to warn you about a life-threatening danger. To make sure you’re savvy with smoke detectors, here’s a quick checklist for your home.

  • Before installing your smoke detector, ensure the batteries are fresh and run a test to make sure it works. Also be sure to fasten it properly.
  • House size. The orientation and size of your house will dictate how many smoke detectors you’re going to need. Place smoke detectors where they will be of the most use. Alarms should be placed on every floor of a house in a central area and in every sleeping room. Most new houses are built with smoke detectors already installed. If this is the case, double check your requirements; you may need more.
  • Scheduled testing of your smoke detectors will ensure they’re in good running order. Batteries can run low and leak, so don’t assume that the battery you put in there a few years ago is still good. Have a regular schedule to test your smoke detectors every few months. It only takes a moment and is a necessary step for the safety of your home.
  • Damage. The smoke detector needs to be kept in good condition throughout its life and should look generally the same as when you bought it. If it is damaged in some way, either through falling off the roof or being bumped with something, perform a test immediately and more regularly for a while afterwards. It is worthwhile keeping a couple of spare detectors around the house. If you’re painting your walls or ceilings, do not paint over the detector. They are sensitive instruments and painting over them will most likely render them useless.
  • Replacement. Smoke detectors are constantly being updated and the requirements surrounding them are changing too. Check every now and then to see if regulations have been altered and change your smoke detectors accordingly.

Your local electrical services company will have more information on smoke detectors and their correct placement around your home.