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Hiro 09-27-2013 01:19 AM

Smoke Detector in Drop Ceiling
I finally located the hardwired smoke detector hidden above the drop ceiling on the finished side of my basement. Manufactured in 1990! I plan to replace it with a photo-electric smoke/CO detector.

The detector is close to the stairwell. The furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer are on the other side of a wall. However, the air space above the drop ceiling leads directly to the furnace area.

My question is, should I mount the detector on the drop ceiling panel or maybe just install a grill to allow airflow to the detector? Like this:

(I'm also wondering why the drop ceiling panels are so tight! If I can get them out of the frames, I usually snag on a wire. The panel I removed to access the smoke detector, I ended up breaking it in half!)

gregzoll 09-27-2013 01:59 AM

You need to have it out in the open. In other words, on the face of the drop ceiling panel, in the living space. Now you can add a Heat sensor or another one above the drop ceiling, and make sure that you know where that one is, if you wish.

Personally I would have it in conjunction with a sprinkler system, for fire suppression. Also make sure that you do place one in your utility room space, since most people miss that area when putting in CO & Smoke detectors.

For places like Bedrooms, use the type that actually has a voice that speaks, vs just a Beap, Beep, Beep, or Buzz.

The panels are made tight, due to most times you use the area between the false ceiling and floor or ceiling above for allowing air return, back to the hvac system. That is why when you pull panels and the hvac is running, you will notice a drop in pressure in office buildings, when you move them.

Hiro 09-27-2013 03:02 AM

OK, I'll mount the detector to the ceiling panel. (I think I'll also convert the 2x4 panels to 2x2 while I'm at it.)

This one detector would have covered the utility area before half of the space was finished. The door between the two spaces is usually open. Should I still have a separate utility area detector? I'm a little concerned about false alarms from the detector being too close to the burners and dryer.

I'm curious about using heat detectors. Maybe good for the garage and utility area to avoid false alarms?

Right now there are only 3 detectors. One per floor near the stairwells. I am considering extending the wiring around the upper floor bedrooms. My son probably wouldn't wake up unless the alarm were in his room!

gregzoll 09-27-2013 03:30 AM

They find that kids and some adults do not wake up to the normal chirping type alarms. They do tend to wake up to the ones that have vocal alerts. As for the laundry, I would still put one in there, due to you never know if the door may be closed some time or another.

Heat would work for garage, crawlspaces, attic, or even above the grid.

I would go with 2x2 panels vs. the 2x4, since they are easier to handle, and plus when you lay the grid out, you get a better layout, than you would with 2x4 panels.

Some will probably come along and state that it is overkill having a unit between the grid and sub floor material above, but really it is up to you if you decide.

Hiro 09-27-2013 10:44 AM

Sounds good. Now if there is a place where I could buy individual ceiling tiles, that would be nice. ^_^

gregzoll 09-27-2013 02:28 PM

Any local big box store, or order online, if there is a specific design. Depending how many you need, it would either be Fedex, UPS. Larger quantities for say an office building, would be delivered by private trucking carrier like ABF.

You only have two main companies out there. Armstrong & USG. There are also some private companies, that make acoustical deadening type tiles also, along with USG & Armstrong.

If this is a basement, I would opt for some kind of deadening type tile, to stop the transition of noise from basement to upstairs, and vice-versa.

Hiro 09-27-2013 04:34 PM

The tiles are Armstrong 942. Something must be off because they fit much better after cutting off 1/4". Also, the 2x2 are /much/ easier to get in or out. If the 2x4 tiles are free enough to lift, there is still a high probability of snagging on support wires. If I clear the wires, the clearance is so low that I still might need to bend (or break) the tile to get it out. Switching to 2x2 tiles solves most of the problems.

I'm revisiting the idea of just putting in, maybe a fluorescent light grid for the smoke detector. If I kept the door shut between the rooms, then I would definitely want to seal the ceiling as a fire break. There are a couple reason why I leave the door open, so the ceiling doesn't really make a difference.

Startingover 09-27-2013 04:38 PM

gregzoll is right. There was a study done. Children sleep thru a beeping alarm. But if they hear their mother's voice saying, "Johnny wake up, there's a fire" they will more often wake up.

Hiro 09-27-2013 05:11 PM


Originally Posted by Startingover (Post 1247133)
gregzoll is right. There was a study done. Children sleep thru a beeping alarm. But if they hear their mother's voice saying, "Johnny wake up, there's a fire" they will more often wake up.

Understood. I guess it's like hearing a voice when you think you're alone! Beeping...that's just annoying like an alarm clock, which can be ignored with enough practise. ^_^

Is there any reason to have an alarm in a room that is likely to always be used as a nursery or office?

Placement in the bedrooms is another consideration. The two rooms that we use both have ceiling fans and the return air vents are by the doors.

gregzoll 09-27-2013 05:53 PM

You are required in some jurisdictions, to have an alarm in each Nursery, and office, or annunciator that does both sound & visual light when the alarm circuit is activated.

As for the bedrooms, the fans will not bother them, same for the return vents. I would place them on the wall, aprx 2 feet from the corner and ceiling, in the doorway area.

We have our master bedroom on the ceiling, in the 2x3 space for the entry. My son's is on wall, just right above his door. Both rooms have ceiling fans.

Hiro 09-27-2013 07:30 PM

The wall might be a good option. The ceilings are textured, so I don't really want to mess up a spot. Wiring won't be as easy though.

Since my house was built with only 3 detectors, unless we do a major remodel, we are not /required/ to add more detectors. They are recommended for each bedroom though.

gregzoll 09-27-2013 07:52 PM

You can get the Wireless units. They use Lithium batteries, and a radio to communicate between units. That way all you are doing, is mounting the plates, not pulling any wires.

Hiro 09-27-2013 10:10 PM

True, but I do have good access through the attic.

BTW, I found a 3-pack of USG tiles that are similar enough to the Armstrong tiles.

I never want to work on a drop ceiling again!

gregzoll 09-27-2013 11:44 PM

We all state that, and end up doing it again.

Hiro 09-28-2013 12:47 AM

1 Attachment(s)

Originally Posted by gregzoll (Post 1247226)
We all state that, and end up doing it again.

Probably. heh

Here's a photo of my temporary work-around. (Who knows how long "temporary" will be?)

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