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Thread: smoke detectors/ vaulted ceilings...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    NW Ohio (land of alotta nothing)

    Default smoke detectors/ vaulted ceilings...

    In my neverending house rewiring project. I am planning to add electric/battery backup smoke detectors. (interconected of course)

    I am planning to add 1 detector in each of the 4 bedrooms, and 2 in the hall way (very long L shaped hall) that connects the bedrooms. The hallway opens up into our living room by a typical 6.5' doorway (no door)

    I stumbled upon a stament saying that you need a detector in a room adjoining a bedroom, if the ceiling is more then 2 feet higher then the bedroom.

    In the bedroom area we have standard 7.5 foot ceilings. However in the living room we have a vaulted ceiling that peeks at 10' (maybe 10.5). The wall to the living room backs up against a den and a bedroom. THere is no direct path from the living room to this bedroom, you have to go down the hall. Do I need a detector in the living room because of the adjoining room with a higher ceiling rule? or does it only apply if there is a direct doorway to the bedroom from the higher ceiling room?

    Read on if a dector is required in the living room:

    Heres a kicker.. The living room flows into the kitchen in the same physical room with a vaulted ceiling too. THe only divider between the kitchen and the lviing room is a 7' high wall. Distance from the dividing wall at the kitchen to the living room wall that borders the bedroom is about 25 feet. Would smoke from the kitchen if someone burnt something be a concern to false alarms at this detector? Would a heat detector be a better bet, or does it have to be smoke?


  2. #2


    YOu are required to install smoke detectors in each bedroom and in EACH VICINITY OF THE BEDROOM AREA. and on each floor level.

    To my knowledge there is no rule concerning change of ceiling hieght but only rules referring to change of floor levels such as a bilevel home.

    Then there is a concern of installing smoke detectors too close to a corner such as where a vaulted ceiling meets the second half of that vaulted ceiling or in a room too close to where the ceiling meets the wall. These tight corner areas tend to be protected from smoke thus limiting a smoke detector's capability to detect smoke if installed to close to these corner areas.

    In your case the vicinity of the bedroom area would be the hall. Unless you have a second bedroom area that passed directly into that living room without a hall or room separating that or those bedrooms from that living room making a second viciinty of the bedroom area passing directly into that living room you are not required to install a smoke detector in that living room. There would be an exception to the last statement and that would be only if that living room floor was making a loft area creating a second floor level. The smokes are not governed by hieght of ceiling only governed by different floor levels such as lofts, basements finished or unfinished or second stories.

    Hope this helps


  3. #3


    I would suggest that you check with you local inspector. When locating the detector in the vicinity of the bedrooms or on each floor, you need to consider where the smoke will accumulate. Hense a vaulted ceiling are is a good area for smoke accumulation.
    Although I do not know which code your local jurisdiction follows, but, for example
    NFPA 72 Fire Alarm Code 1996
    2-5.2 Detector location and spacing
    2-5.2.1 Smoke Detectors
    2- Smoke detectors in rooms with ceiling slopes greater than 1' in 8' horizontally shall be located at the high side of the room.
    2- Smoke detectors shall be mounted on the cieling at least 4" from a wall or on a wall with the top of the detectornot less than 4" nor more than 12" below the ceiling.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    NW Ohio (land of alotta nothing)


    The link below to Codecheck's site is what brought up this question.

    It is the 5th bullet down.

    Am I missing a deatil somewhere, is the site wrong, or is there a condition where this doesnt apply to me?

    Also I keep forgetting to mention.. this is a 1 story house, no basement...

  5. #5


    The Codecheck site appears to be quoting the 1994 Uniform Building Code 310.9.1.4.
    I do not have one available to see the section text in context.
    It seems that it indicates that if the adjoining vaulted celing is greater than 2' above the hallway near the bedrooms, you need an extra detector in that vaulted area.

  6. #6


    Code Check is right and then may be wrong. Ron hit what is the key subject. All depends on the Code your jurisdiction adopted. The Uniform building Code is the master Code that has been around for years. Then CABO one and two split off the UBC making a residential code for building that seems to be the most common building codes for dwellings and is most often adopted by your local legilative body. Then in the last few years due to an international treaty a new residential building Code has been written and fast becoming the most commonly adopted residential building code this new code book is call the 2000 International Residential Code or IRC. My state has adopted the IRC as of this year. Then you have a Uniform Fire Code last revised in 1996 that is also a spin off that may have been adopted by your local jurisdiction.

    If you will look in the IRC or the CABO what should be found is no reference to ceiling hieght. Then if you check the UFC or the UBC you will see similarity with both these codes mentioning the rules concerning ceiling hieght.

    The residential Codes were written to provide a less stringent building method of rules for dwellings that is required for commercial industrial codes of the UFC and hte UBC.

    As Ron said you need to contact your local inspectors or State office to discover which Code has been adopted by your jurisdiction as rules of law.

    Now that that is all clear in your mind concering all these different rules could you remind me what my name is I think I am getting confused again! Ha Ha


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