Home > In Your Home > How To Install & Maintain Your Smoke Alarms

Can you recommend a smoke alarm and where I can buy one?

Norfolk County Fire cannot recommend a particular brand of smoke alarm. However, we do recommend that electrical smoke alarms (hard wired) and battery operated smoke alarms be U.L.C. listed. Products that have been evaluated by Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (U.L.C.), and found to meet their requirements carry the ULC mark. Most department or hardware stores carry a variety of smoke alarms. For more information on smoke alarms, please visit the Fire Marshal’s Public Fire Safety Council’s website and read Facts About Smoke Alarms.


Where should I install my smoke alarm?


Smoke Alarm Installation Location


The smoke alarm should be installed between each sleeping area and the remainder of the building or where a sleeping area is served by a hallway, install the alarm in the hall. Always install the smoke alarm on or near the ceiling in accordance with the manufacturer’s installation instructions.

Effective March 1, 2006, it is the law for all Ontario homes to have a working smoke alarm on every storey and outside all sleeping areas. With this previously announced Fire Code amendment now in effect, it is hoped there will be a reduction of the number of preventable fire-related injuries and fatalities. The amendment covers single family, semi-detached and town homes, whether owner-occupied or rented.


How do I maintain my smoke alarm?

Install a new battery of the proper type at least once a year. If the low battery warning beeps, replace the battery immediately. We change our clocks each spring and fall, which are good times to change your smoke alarm batteries, too.

Never remove the battery for use in other devices.

Dust can clog a smoke alarm, so carefully vacuum the inside of a battery powered unit using the soft bristle brush. If electrically connected, shut off the power and vacuum the outside vents only. Restore power and test the unit when finished.

Smoke alarms do wear out, so if you think your alarms are more than 10 years old, replace them with new ones.


What is the proper way for me to dispose of my old smoke alarms?

Waste Diversion Ontario (WDO), a non-crown corporation created under the Waste Diversion Act, was established to develop, implement and operate waste diversion programs for a wide range of materials designated by the Ministry of the Environment. One of the designated waste material categories is Waste Electronics and Electrical Equipment (WEEE), which includes various appliances, equipment, tools and instruments. Smoke alarms have been specifically identified to be included within this scope. We have been advised that the development of this particular diversion program is currently in progress. For more information on the status of this program, you may access WDO’s website at www.wdo.ca or contact them at (416) 226-5113.

Despite the fact that the WEEE program is still under development, many Ontario municipalities already have hazardous waste recycling depots in place for collecting hazardous electronic waste materials. Please contact your municipal waste management department to determine whether such a facility is available in your municipality.

In the event your municipality does not offer this type of service, many smoke alarms have a label stating they should be returned to the manufacturer for disposal. As well, the Nuclear Substances and Radiation Devices Regulations permits a person, without a licence, to dispose of smoke alarms containing a nuclear substance if it does not contain more than 185 kBq of americium 241. Residential ionization smoke alarms typically contain up to 33 kBq of americium 241, which is comparable to the background radiation already present in many materials.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has confirmed that individual smoke alarms containing americium 241 may be disposed of in the garbage. If the smoke alarm contains radium or if more than 10 units have to be disposed of, then the consumer should contact the CNSC at 1-800-668-5284 to determine the proper procedure.


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