Here we will show you how to fit and maintain battery-operated smoke, heat and carbon monoxide alarms
As fitting methods can vary between designs, it is always best to check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to position, install, test and maintain your alarms
Before fitting, give careful consideration to the positioning of your fire safety equipment. For example, it’s best to position a smoke alarm on each level of your home, ideally in the hallway or landing and close to bedrooms so you could hear them at night. Additional devices can be added to further improve your safety
Consider the different types of alarms that are available and be sure to choose one that is best suited to the room where it will be positioned
It is recommended that you also have a fire blanket in the kitchen, at least one ABC-rated Powder fire extinguisher accessible at all times, fire doors and an escape ladder. Make sure you know how to use these items, including understanding the manufacturer’s safety guidance
Whilst installing fire safety equipment will help you in the event of a fire, it’s also best that you and your family plan an escape route
Do it right
There are several different types of alarms, so be sure to choose the most suitable alarm for your space:
Optical (photoelectric) alarms detect larger smoke particles emitted by smouldering fires and are suitable for hallways, landings, bedrooms and near to kitchens. They are not suitable for dusty or steamy areas such as lofts or bathrooms
Ionisation alarms are sensitive to the smaller smoke particles emitted by flaming fires and are suitable for living and dining rooms, lofts and near bathrooms. Don’t place them in or near to kitchens as they are susceptible to false alarms
Heat (thermal) alarms detect air hotter than 58 degrees Celsius and are suitable for garages and kitchens because they are not affected by exhaust or cooking fumes. If used elsewhere, they generally respond slower than smoke alarms
Combined optical and thermal (multi-sensor) alarms are increasingly available and offer better protection than single-sensor alarms. They suit all rooms except kitchens, bathrooms and the loft
Carbon monoxide (CO) alarms detect a build-up of invisible and odourless CO gas which can be fatal. A CO alarm should be fitted in every room that contains a fuel-burning appliance, such as a gas fire or boiler, open fire or log burner. It should not be positioned above windows or doors, or near an extractor fan or air vent
Mains-powered alarms can be linked together so they all sound the alarm when one detects smoke. However, they must be installed by a qualified electrician
Wear safety goggles when drilling
Ensure that all gas appliances and flues are checked or serviced annually by a Gas Safe Registered engineer in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
If you have an open fire or log burner remember to have the chimney swept annually
Test each smoke alarm weekly and replace the battery annually – or earlier if the alarm starts chirping to indicate a low battery
Check your manufacturer’s instructions to see how often your alarm needs to be replaced, which is usually every 10 years for a smoke alarm and every 5-7 years for a CO alarm
Be sure to keep the alarm clean and free from dust
Install a battery-powered smoke, heat or Carbon Monoxide (CO) alarm
Before starting, always check the manufacturer’s instructions as installation methods can differ between designs.
For a smoke or heat alarm, choose a location that is near to the centre of the ceiling and at least 500mm away from walls and light fittings. It’s also best to position the alarm away from any obstructions or corners that may delay the arrival of smoke or heat.
A CO alarm should be fitted in every room that contains a fuel-burning appliance. It should be positioned high up on the wall, about 150mm from the ceiling and between 1m to 3m away from the appliance.
Use a cable, pipe & stud detector to locate the closest joist to your intended positioning. If you have a plasterboard wall or can’t locate a joist, then you can still fit an alarm but will need to use a different fixing.
Then use the cable, pipe & stud detector to check that the area where the alarm will be positioned is clear of hidden pipes and cables.
Remove the fixing plate from the alarm, hold it up to the location you have chosen and use a pencil to mark the position of the screws.
Using the correct size drill bit for the screws provided, drill through the ceiling into the joist.
If you located a stud, insert wall plugs into the holes. Alternatively, insert hollow wall fixings such as plasterboard plugs.
Screw the fixing plate into position using the provided screws, taking care not to over-tighten.
Fit the supplied battery into the body of the alarm. Once the battery is connected the alarm may go off and the LED light should start flashing.
Connect the body of the alarm to the fixing plate as per manufacturer’s instructions.
Finally, press the ‘test’ button to check that the alarm is working.
Testing and maintaining battery-powered alarms
Smoke alarms and CO alarms should be tested weekly to minimise the risk that a broken alarm goes unnoticed. Simply press the ‘test’ button to check the alarm is active.
Replace the battery at least once a year, or sooner if you hear the alarm beep to warn of a low battery state. Remember to test the alarm after replacing batteries.
Keep the vents of the alarm clear of dust by cleaning the alarm every couple of months. This can be done with a cloth or gently with the brush attachment of your vacuum on the lowest setting. Remember to always test the alarm after cleaning.