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Install a Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector

Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector

Help protect your home and family against fire and carbon monoxide with an easy to install smoke/carbon monoxide detector-alarm. It takes no time at all and, with just a little maintenance, will help protect your most cherished possessions.


Tools & Materials

Use this checklist when you go to the store and purchase your items.


Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detector Considerations

alarm preparation diagram

Once a fire starts, it can grow and spread quickly, filling the house with smoke. Carbon monoxide, however, can pose a threat without you even knowing it. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas that can come from faulty combustion in appliances, like furnaces and water heaters. CO is very dangerous because it replaces the oxygen in the air, making it difficult to breathe.

Follow the manufacturer's instructions for placement of smoke/carbon monoxides detector-alarms. Locations include:

  • On each floor of the home
  • In each bedroom
  • In each hallway close to sleeping areas — if a hallway is longer than 40 feet, place devices at both ends
  • At the top of stairways going to an upper floor
  • At the bottom of stairways going to a basement

Also pay attention to locations to avoid and information on how far to install from furnaces, stoves or other combustion particle sources.

Battery-powered detector-alarms are the easiest to install, but you need to replace the batteries regularly. Other models connect to the house's electrical system. Look for battery backup on these units.

Some combination smoke/carbon monoxide alarms feature voice notification that will tell you if the threat is fire or carbon monoxide.


Installation of Battery-Powered Models

Installation

Follow the installation instructions that came with your device. Here are the basic steps:


Step 1

Open the back of the detector-alarm unit and install the batteries, following the diagram on the bottom of the battery well.

Select quality batteries for your unit. Use a permanent marker to write the installation date on the batteries. Change the batteries at least once every six months.

Step 2

Position the unit on the ceiling or an inside wall.


Step 3

Using the back of the unit as a template, mark the center of the holes with a pencil.


Step 4

Drill a hole through each of the pencil marks.


Step 5

Install anchors in the holes with a hammer. Anchors may not be necessary if the screw holes are into a ceiling rafter or wall stud.


Step 6

Insert two screws and tighten until the back plate is secure.


Step 7

Attach the detector-alarm unit to the back plate. Most units clip into place.


Step 8

Press the TEST button to verify that it operates and can be heard easily.


Step 9

Test the unit once a week following the manufacturer’s instructions.



Evacuation

sample evacuation plan

You should have an evacuation plan for your family so that everyone knows what to do if the alarm goes off. Identify a single gathering point outside the home. Practice evacuation periodically, determining the fastest and safest paths to your gathering point. If the smoke/carbon monoxide detector-alarm does go off:

1. Leave your home immediately, making sure that all family members are out.

2. Call 911 to report the problem from a safe location.

3. Stay out of the house until firemen or technicians tell you it's safe to return.

4. If the problem is carbon monoxide, contact a trained technician to check appliances, like the water heater or furnace.

Before opening ANY door, carefully touch it to see if it's hot. If so, don't open the door. Use an alternate escape route.