Smoke alarms are your first line of defense against a fire. Here’s what you need to know about smoke alarms, including which type to choose and how to install and maintain them in your home.

Types of smoke alarms available include:

Optical Detectors: Less prone to false alarms and react faster to smoldering fires.
Ionization Detectors: Better at sensing flames but prone to false alarms.
Combination Detectors: Use optical and ionization sensors in the same unit to provide protection from both types of fires.

Tips for Installing a Smoke Alarm:

  • Install at least one smoke alarm on each level of your home.
  • Place an alarm in or near each bedroom of your home.
  • Write the date purchased on the back of each alarm.
  • Position alarms on or near the ceiling and away from corners.
  • Write the replacement date on each battery and change batteries as needed or every 6 to 12 months.
  • Clean alarms yearly by gently vacuuming them or blowing detectors out with canned air.
  • Replace the alarms every 10 years.

Further Reading

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio,, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

Learn More