Smoke alarms are mandatory in every building and dwelling across Canada. It’s crucial to install a smoke detector in your home for you and your family’s safety because the smoke from fires is often what harms people. We have a wide variety, from basic smoke detectors to smart home devices with app and WiFi compatibility. 

Finding a New Smoke Detector

We have many kinds of smoke detectors. Keep you, your family, and your home as safe as possible.

How to Choose Your Smoke Detector

The choices of smoke alarms can be overwhelming, but one crucial feature is it should be ULC-listed. This means the smoke detector has been evaluated by the Underwriters Laboratories of Canada and has met a high baseline of safety and usability criteria to meet with the National Canada Fire Alarm Code and Standards. When it comes to smoke detectors, there are two different kinds, based on what the sensor detects in an emergency: ions or photoelectricity.

  • Ionization smoke alarm

    Ionization Sensor

    This type of smoke detector contains a small amount of radioactive material that charges the air between two plates and creates an electrical current that flows within the sensor. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the electrical current and activates the alarm. Ionization sensors are most active when detecting fast-flaming fires.
  • Photoelectric smoke alarm

    Photoelectric Sensor

    This type of smoke detector uses a beam of light in the sensing chamber. When smoke enters the chamber, some of the light gets scattered by the smoke particles and the alarm is activated. Photoelectric sensors are most active when detecting smoky, smouldering fires and are less likely to sound false alarms for shower steam or regular cooking smoke.
  • Combination ionization and photoelectric smoke alarm

    Combination Ionization-Photoelectric Smoke Alarm

    As its name suggests, this type of smoke detector combines ionization and photoelectric sensors to detect both fast-flaming and slow-smouldering fires.
Graphic showing where in a room a detector or alarm should be placed

Smoke Alarm Placement Within Rooms

Graphic showing where in the house smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms should be placed

Smoke Alarm Placement Within Homes

Where to Install a Smoke Detector

  • Smoke alarms should be installed on or near ceilings, and according to the instructions given by the manufacturer.
  • Try and space them at least three metres from bathrooms, windows, heating appliances, and ceiling fans.
  • Ionization smoke detectors should be installed at least three metres from the kitchen to avoid false alarms. Otherwise, install a photoelectric smoke detector.
  • Install smoke alarms every 10 metres in straight runs so they can cover all spaces of the home equally.
  • Avoid installing smoke alarms in places like corners where there's "dead air".
  • Check your province's fire code regulations to ensure smoke detectors are installed properly and in the right locations.

    How to Maintain Your Smoke Detector

  • Install a new battery at least once a year, making sure it matches the manufacturer's specifications. Don't use the smoke detector battery in other devices.
  • If the low battery warning starts beeping, replace the battery immediately.
  • Smoke alarms generally have a 10-year lifespan before they start to wear out. It's often best to buy a new one instead of replacing the battery to ensure the unit is in the best working order.
  • Because dust can clog up the inside of a smoke detector, periodically take it off the ceiling and gently vacuum it with soft bristles. If it's electrically connected, turn off the power and vacuum the exterior vents. Remember to turn the power back on once finished, then test the unit. You should clean the unit at least once a year.
  • Test units monthly by pressing the "test" button. If you hear the alarm, the smoke detector is fine. You can also blow out a candle under the unit for more peace of mind.
  • If you notice one detector is frequently going off, check to see if false alarms are the cause. Sometimes smoke detectors are installed too close to kitchens or bathrooms. If it keeps going off after you've moved it, you might have a faulty unit and you'll need to replace it.

    How Often You Should Change Your Smoke Detector Battery

    If your smoke detector is wired in electrically to your home, it'll still have a backup battery in case the power fails. But if the alarm is solely battery-operated, it runs on one of two batteries: disposable 9V or non-replaceable 10-year lithium.

    Additional Smoke Detector Features to Consider

  • Hush Feature: This will silence the alarm for a few minutes until the culprit has dissipated, without the alarm turning off. In the event of a real emergency, the alarm will re-sound.
  • Voice Alert: In addition to the alarm sound, some smoke detectors also feature pre-recorded commands like "Fire, get out!", "Smoke alert!", or "Low battery alert."
  • Strobe Detectors: For the hearing-impaired, flashing strobe lights can alert of a possible emergency. Some detectors also incorporate bed-shaking or vibrations.
  • Interconnection: When one smoke alarm goes off, it can trigger units elsewhere in the home so everyone can hear it and respond.
  • "Smart" Features: Add-ons (like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and app compatibility) mean you can control and communicate with your smoke detector without being nearby in close proximity to it.
  • IRIS: A smoke detector connected to the Immediate Response Information System (IRIS) allows you to receive mobile alerts and emails, so you're aware of dangers if the alarm's been activated.

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