3 Smoke Detectors and How They Work

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.

Installing a smoke alarm.
Smoke rises, so you should install smoke alarms on or near the ceiling.

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


  1. It would be a mercy if you would recommend to landlords that they install battery-operated smoke detectors and change the battery every year. My landlord has installed a hard-wired unit I can’t shut up nor find a way to detach it.

  2. I have the same problem. Electrician wants 75.00 for service call and I have to go out and buy the smoke detector for him to install.


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