Smoke detectors in the home are probably the most important pieces of equipment for keeping your family safe. These essential tools alert you to escape from the home if a fire breaks out.

Smoke detectors can’t provide an early warning if they are not in the correct locations. Here are some guidelines on where to install smoke detectors so that you get the earliest possible alert about a fire.

Smoke Detectors in the Home Belong in Every Bedroom

It may sound expensive to put detectors in every bedroom, but these devices are actually very affordable. House fires at night are more likely to prove fatal because the occupants of the home are asleep and won’t notice the early signs of a fire.

A detector in each bedroom, including spare ones, will provide an immediate alert in the bedroom closest to the fire. The alarm will wake up anyone sleeping in the house.

Smoke Detectors in the Kitchen

Cooking is a leading cause of house fires, so it makes sense that you should have a smoke detector in the kitchen. However, you don’t want false alarms. A nearby detector will alarm from sensing even a small amount of smoke. Drips and crumbs inside toasters, on stovetops, and inside ovens can create enough smoke to set off the smoke detector. Install the smoke detector approximately 10 feet away from any cooking appliance.

Place a Smoke Detector Near the HVAC System

Dust, electrical defects, and mechanical malfunctions can lead to fires around air handling units, so it’s smart to have a detector placed near heating and cooling equipment. Whether your HVAC system is located in the basement, the attic, or a utility room, place a smoke detector nearby.


For most homes, the hallway is part of the fire escape route. If a fire breaks out in the hallway, occupants need as much notice as possible so that they can find another way to escape.

Even a small fire in a hallway can be enough to block exits for every bedroom so you need a detector to notify occupants of any threats to that pathway. Place detectors outside of each bedroom to provide a warning to all rooms.

Smoke Detectors in the Home Should be Installed on Every Level

In a multi-level home, it is recommended that there is at least one smoke detector on every floor. The basement is often forgotten because it is not occupied as often, but it should still include a smoke detector, especially if the clothes dryer is located there. Installing a detector in the basement, near the stairs, will alert you to a fire in this area. The same is true of the attic. Place all smoke detectors as close to the ceiling as possible, because smoke rises.

The thought of a fire in the home is frightening. Well-placed smoke detectors provide the earliest possible warning, letting your family escape safely.

HomeVantage Home Inspections offers home inspection services to Northern New Jersey. If you’re buying or selling a home, contact us to request an appointment.