I would like to install smoke detector in the basement, which has the following layout:

    |                                        |
  Small           Living Area                |
  Window                                     |
    |                                        |
    +---+       +---------------+------------+
    |     Utility Room          |      |-----|
    |  (furnace, washer,        |      |-----|
    |   hot water tank)         |      |---- |

The right bottom box indicates stairs to upper level. So my question is: where is the best spot to install a smoke detector? Is it right next to the stairs, e.g. to the left or right, or in front of the stairs, or closer to the utility room?

2 Answers 2


From the National Fire Protection Association:

Smoke alarms installed in the basement should be installed on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs leading to the next level.

I presume this is to detect smoke as it rises up the stairs. I have also read on the detector instruction sheet NOT to install smoke/monoxide detector closer than 15 feet from your furnace. I assume this is to reduce false alarms. If you have any doubts, you could certainly install more than one detector.

I have a similar layout in that I have a finished basement along with a separate utility room. I put a detector by the stairs as well as one in the utility room, about 10 feet from the furnace. No false alarms. Haven't had a fire to test this setup, thankfully.


Near the Utility Room

I would put it near the Utility Room because that is a major possible fire location due to the furnace and water heater as well as (typically) electrical equipment.

Don't Forget Carbon Monoxide

If you don't already have one, install a Carbon Monoxide detector as well. In some ways that can be even more important - smoke from downstairs will set off (eventually) a smoke detector upstairs. But carbon monoxide is a silent killer so early warning is essential and smoke detectors (unless they are combined with CO detectors) will not detect carbon monoxide. Unlike fires, which can start with a spark from a bad circuit or a cigarette, the biggest carbon monoxide sources (outside your garage) are your furnace and water heater.

  • thanks for detailed response. So I basically can install a detector on the ceiling right in front of the utility room, correct?
    – Mark
    Aug 13, 2018 at 12:33
  • That's what I would do. Aug 13, 2018 at 13:58
  • I forgot to mention that tight in front if the door to the utility room, there is a vent register in the ceiling. I'd assume that smoke detector should be put before the vent register and towards the utility room door. Am I correct?
    – Mark
    Aug 14, 2018 at 2:50
  • That's hard to say. Ideally the smoke detector should be effective on smoke coming from the utility room or from elsewhere in the basement. So it probably doesn't matter too much. The other answer indicates you don't want it too close to the furnace, so it may depend on where the furnace & hot water heater are in the utility room relative to the doorway. Aug 14, 2018 at 2:53

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