A faint beeping sound pulls you from your sleep. As you groggily try to grasp what’s happening, the smell of smoke hits you and it becomes clear: there’s a fire nearby! Luckily, your smoke detector has done its job so you’re able to get your loved ones to safety and save most of your property. That’s when a chilling thought hits you – what if that alarm never sounded because you didn’t have enough smoke detectors?

A few strategically placed smoke detectors are your first line of defense in the event of a house fire. But how many smoke detectors do you need and where should they go? Northeastern Masonry & Chimney is here to arm you with the knowledge you need to protect your family and home. 

Have questions about fireplace maintenance and repair services? Call us at 518-333-7231 or get in touch with us online.

How Many Smoke Detectors Do I Need in My Home?

The American Red Cross and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend installing smoke detectors on every level of the home as a basic rule of thumb, but laws regarding smoke detectors can change depending on where you live. Every state has its laws, but it’s not uncommon for cities and counties to enforce their own guidelines, as well.

In the state of New York, one- and two-family homes must be outfitted with audible smoke detectors outside of each sleeping area.

But remember, what’s mentioned above is the minimum. You can never have too many smoke detectors. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and install more than you think you need.

original infographic about smoke detector regulations in New York

​​Where Should I Place My Smoke Detectors?

You’ve stocked up on smoke detectors and it’s time for installation…but making sure you have a viable plan as placement is the key to maximum effectiveness. Follow the following tips to be certain that you’ll be alerted quickly and have time to escape safely no matter where a fire breaks out:

  • You need a minimum of one smoke alarm on every level of your home – this includes the basement and attic. 
  • We’re at our most vulnerable when we sleep. Place one detector outside each sleeping area.
  • Basements can be fire hazards because of all the stuff you might keep down there that could catch fire, or because of the furnace and other appliances. Place an alarm near the bottom of the stairs leading up. 
  • If you spend a lot of time in an area, it needs a smoke detector. Install one in places like the living room, den, and family room.
  • Is there a garage connected to your house? It’s a good idea to put a smoke detector inside the garage, close to the door that leads into your home. 
  • Smoke detectors should be at least 10 feet away from cooking appliances to minimize false alarms.
  • Smoke rises, so mount smoke detectors high on walls or on the ceiling. Wall-mounted alarms should be within 12 inches of the ceiling.
  • Do your best to avoid placing them too close to vents, ceiling fans, or windows.
  • Of course, smoke detectors should be installed near potential fire hazards like fireplaces, water heaters, or electrical panels.

How Often Should I Test My Smoke Detectors?

To ensure that your smoke detectors function properly in a fire emergency, it’s crucial to test them regularly. Fortunately, they come equipped with a designated “test” button to make the process simple and quick. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) recommends a monthly check to confirm that your detectors will be ready to sound off when there is an incident. Testing your detectors once a month will also help reduce instances of false alarms.

Can I Install Smoke Detectors Myself, or Do I Need a Professional? 

As of 2019, new or replacement smoke detectors sold in New York have to be hardwired to the home or powered by a sealed, non-removable battery with a minimum lifespan of 10 years. Battery-powered smoke detectors are straightforward and can be installed by homeowners with basic tools like a drill and screwdriver to mount the base plate on the wall or ceiling. Be sure to take some time to thoroughly read the manufacturer’s instructions!

Installing hardwired smoke detectors is a much more intricate process. You’ll have to connect each detector to your home’s electrical system. If you don’t have experience working with electricity or you aren’t comfortable, reach out to a qualified professional. Worried about power outages? Many hardwired alarms have battery backups.

Take Proper Precautions To Protect Your Family & Home

A house fire can have devastating consequences. There are several items that offer frontline protection against the unthinkable, so exercise proper caution and see to it that your home has the correct amount of smoke detectors. 

If you have a concern regarding your fireplace or another heating appliance in your home, turn to the team at Northeastern Masonry & Chimney. Feel free to get in touch with us at 518-333-7231 or contact us online.