Smoke Detectors

Photoelectric type detectors are required as the primary alarm for each required location when replacing or adding smoke detectors in all residential dwellings in Shaker Heights. The photoelectric smoke alarm is less prone to nuisance false alarms from cooking and steam. It also responds faster to smoldering type fires that cause the most injuries and deaths in residences.

Power Types

The following is a list of power types in home smoke detectors:

  • Uses a 9 volt battery.
  • Power may last up to 10 years with a long-life battery
  • Hardwired to the home 110 volt electrical service (with battery back-up)
  • Battery detectors are readily available and can be installed by the homeowner or tenant. Hardwired detectors must be installed by a qualified electrician.

Sensor Types

  • There are three types of sensor technology used in smoke detectors: photoelectric, ionization and a combination or dual-sensor that incorporates both sensors in one detector. Photoelectric detectors are required in Shaker Heights.
  • Smoke detectors should bear the label of an approved testing agency (UL or FM).


Smoke detectors must be placed on every level of the home including the basement, outside every sleeping area. We also recommend that a smoke detector be placed in every bedroom. If you wish, you may use either of the other two types of detectors in conjunction with the photoelectric detector. 

Detectors should be mounted on the ceiling or high on the wall (smoke rises). Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Additional smoke alarms can be added to increase your protection. There are additional requirements for multi-family dwellings.

Testing and Maintenance

  • Test each detector monthly by pushing the button.
  • Replace 9 volt batteries in detectors twice a year. (Remember: change your clocks, change your batteries.)
  • If the alarm “chirps,” warning that the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
  • Replace long-life battery detector at the end of its recommended life, 10 years maximum or sooner if it is not functioning properly.
  • Replace all detectors, including hard wired ones, when they are 10 years old or sooner if they are not functioning properly.
  • Vacuum out dust or cobwebs that have accumulated in smoke detectors at least once per year.

Additional Tips

  • Consider installing interconnected detectors (wired or wireless). When one detector sounds, every detector throughout the house sounds.
  • In the event of a false alarm, never remove the battery or disconnect the power source. Simply fan the smoke or steam away from the detector until the alarm stops.
  • If a contractor or supplier is installing your detector, make sure you are provided with the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Smoke detectors and batteries are provided free to residents who cannot afford them, and the fire department installs smoke detectors for residents who require assistance. The department also provides guidance on the proper placement of detectors in your home.

Smoke detectors are one component of a complete home escape plan. Have a plan and practice it.