Menu Close

Smoke Alarm Code Requirements for the Home

Have you ever wondered how many smoke alarms you need installed throughout your home or where they need to be located?

Section R314 of the International Residential Code (IRC) details the requirements for smoke alarms within residential dwelling units.

Fun Tip: To learn the difference between the International Residential Code (IRC) verses the International Building Code (IBC), be sure to check out this POST.

Smoke alarms have a huge role of alerting occupants of potential fires they might otherwise not be aware of. Fires spread rapidly so it is important to have a detection device that would notify you of potential fires and give you an opportunity to get to safety without much delay.

In this post we will cover where smoke alarms are required to be located within a residential dwelling unit per the requirements of the International Residential Code (IRC).

Smoke Alarm Locations

Where should smoke alarms be placed?

Per Section R314.3, Smoke alarms are required to be placed in the following locations:

  1. In each sleeping room.
  2. Outside each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms.
  3. On each additional story of the dwelling, including basements and habitable attics and not including crawl spaces and uninhabitable attics. In dwellings or dwelling units with split levels and without an intervening door between the adjacent levels, a smoke alarm installed on the upper level shall suffice for the adjacent lower level provided that the lower level is less than one full story below the upper level.
  4. Smoke alarms shall be installed not less than 3 feet horizontally from the door or opening of a bathroom that contains a bathtub or shower unless this would prevent placement of a smoke alarm required by this section.

Smoke Alarms for Sleeping Rooms

The first item requires a smoke alarm to be located within every sleeping room throughout the house. This provides protection should a fire begin within a bedroom.

The second item requires a smoke alarm to be located directly outside the bedrooms. This provides early notification should a fire develop in an area that is typically used as a way to exit the bedroom.

Occupants are typically unaware of fires when asleep which is why it is important to have smoke alarms located in and directly outside of bedrooms or any room used for sleeping purposes to notify them of a potential hazard before the fire continues to spread.

Smoke Alarms at Each Story

The third item requires smoke alarms to be located at each story of a dwelling. This includes basements and habitable attics but is not required in crawl spaces or uninhabitable attics.

This provides detection to areas that would typically be occupied throughout the dwelling unit.

When a split level occurs and the adjacent levels are open to each other, the smoke alarm can be placed at the upper portion of the split level if it is not more than one full story in variation.

Smoke Alarms Near Bathrooms

The fourth item prohibits smoke alarms from being located within 3 feet from doors opening into a bathroom containing a tub or shower.

However this section would not apply if it would interfere with the placement of a smoke alarm as required by this section.

As you can see, Section R314.3 specifies the locations of were smoke alarms are required to be installed throughout a dwelling unit.

Smoke Alarms Installed Near Cooking Appliances

Can smoke alarms be installed next to a cooking appliance?

When it comes to installing smoke alarms near cooking appliances, there are two restrictions that are to be met unless this would interfere with the placement of smoke alarms in the locations required in Section R314.3 above.

These restrictions are the following:

  1. Ionization smoke alarms shall not be installed less than 20 feet horizontally from a permanently installed cooking appliance – [Buy on Amazon]
  2. Ionization smoke alarms with an alarm-silencing switch shall not be installed less than 10 feet horizontally from a permanently installed cooking appliance – [Buy on Amazon]
  3. Photoelectric smoke alarms shall not be installed less than 6 feet horizontally from a permanently installed cooking appliance – [Buy on Amazon]

Again these restrictions would not apply if they would prevent the smoke alarms from being placed in the locations required by Section R314.3.

So this sums up the basic code requirements for residential smoke alarm locations.

For more information regarding detailed requirements of smoke alarms within residential dwelling units, be sure to check out Section R314 of the International Residential Code (IRC).

.

* Reference Source – 2018 International Residential Code – [Buy on Amazon]