Smoke Alarms

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Forum topic by Whiskers posted 04-22-2014 01:40 AM 1548 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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389 posts in 2023 days

04-22-2014 01:40 AM

On the surface this may seem like another one of my dumb questions, but I have waded thru a lot of posts on here, and collected a lot of conflicting and probably misinformation.

I added a smoke alarm to my shop. When I moved into my house I noticed it didn’t really have full coverage and I bought a contractor pack of them and went a little wild. Cheap peace of mind. Later I noticed that in my zeal I had ended up with 2 in my master bedroom but none in my garage. I took the oldest one down and moved it to the garage.

I always felt smoke detectors are a good thing, and not a issue, but on here people talk about them going off in shops due to the dust. Um, are we not supposed to not have that much dust? Am I missing something, I figure it like not putting one in the bathroom. You don’t mount it over the table saw. Anyway, the one I put it works, I have tested it, and I do not mean by pushing the stupid little button to check the battery, trust me it works, it does not like smoke.

Problem is, with all the insulation etc tween the ceiling of my garage and floor of my master bedroom, I would never notice the smoke alarm if it went off. I been looking at wired systems that interconnect for my house because of this problem. The secret to stopping a fire issue from becoming a fire problem is early and quick action. I have had only one experience with a house fire, and I put it out with a couple quarts of apple juice, really, that what I did, fire started, eeek, run screaming from house and notice the apple juice I left by the door, grab a couple, and fire is out. I can not afford the preppy crap many buy, but HD has some inter-connectible smoke alarms for pretty cheap, and it would be a great solution for this house.

My big question, is ordinary smoke alarms that big a issue in a shop. Mine is in a corner that should not see that much dust. I would like to hear from others who do have smoke alarms in their shop, good or bad. It almost seems like if it goes off, it a alert you might need to work on the dust collection.

13 replies so far

View kdc68's profile


2657 posts in 2273 days

#1 posted 04-22-2014 02:20 AM

My understanding is that they are indeed sensitive to dust. And placement is important because they require a certain amount of clearance from the ceiling and inside corners. I have a detector near the entrance to my basement workshop, but far enough away so dust doesn’t interfere.

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View Whiskers's profile


389 posts in 2023 days

#2 posted 04-22-2014 02:28 AM

That where mine is, over the entrance to the rest of the house. But it is in a corner. My experience is smoke has no issues with corners, it just fills from the top. This is a sensible spot, corner, door, small workbench, entertainment center, Than tools. this wall not heavy dust producer. Well the sander is, but the DC works great on it. My oscillating belt/spindle sander is one of the lowest dust producer in the shop.

View kdc68's profile


2657 posts in 2273 days

#3 posted 04-22-2014 02:36 AM

My original post was from memory from the instructions that came with the detector. To further iterate I copied and pasted a website below. Please read for your assurance

-- Measure "at least" twice and cut once

View BJODay's profile


526 posts in 1939 days

#4 posted 04-22-2014 02:55 AM

I have a detector in my basement stairwell. If there is a fire in the workshop, the smoke will easily travel to the detector and cause it to alarm. I have not had problems with dust. I only began dust collection last year. Up until then I collected all my dust on any flat surface near the workshop.


View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1274 posts in 1630 days

#5 posted 04-22-2014 03:06 AM

I have my DC right near the smoke detector. I have a 1 micron bag on it.
No issues.

I do need to put another smoke detector in my hand shop. I have 3 rooms, the existing 2 are in my storage area, and by my stairs (where the dc is).

I never had a problem when I only used a vac too. So for me it’s not been an issue.

-- Jeff NJ

View firefighterontheside's profile


18162 posts in 1853 days

#6 posted 04-22-2014 03:10 AM

A better thing to have in the shop would be a heat detector. That’s what they put in kitchens and other places where there is likely to be smoke or dust that will give false alarms. There are also different types of smoke detectors. Most are photoelectric where there is a light source and a sensor. When there is no smoke, the light dos not reach the sensor. When smoke enters, light is refracted onto the sensor. The other type is an ionization detector. These have a radioactive source, hat ionizes the air. When smoke enters, the ionization is reduced and the detector alarms. This might also be a better type as it is more responsive to flaming fires than smoky smoldering fires. Whatever you do, spray some air in there occasionally to keep it clear of dust that has settled in there.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View Redoak49's profile


3242 posts in 1985 days

#7 posted 04-22-2014 12:37 PM

I put a heat detector in my shop which will alarm if the temperature goes over a certain limit or the rate of rise of the temperature is greater than some fixed amount. I have a monitored alarm system in my house which includes quite a few smoke alarms, heat detectors and of course security sensors.

I also have a couple of plain smoke detectors in a couple of places and even one in my shop. It has not gone off yet. I do a pretty good job with dust collection and use dust collection on my sanders.

One of the issues with my shop is that it is in the basement on the far end of the house from the bedrooms. If a plain alarm not connected to the alarm system went off, I do not know if I would hear it. I think that the dogs would hear it and get agitated. With the monitored alarm system, the siren is enough to wake the dead and the phone would be ringing with a call from the alarm company.

Smoke and heat detectors are great but the number one thing is prevention with things like heaters, oily rags, extension cords and general cleanliness. In case something bad happens, make certain you have some type of inventory even if it is just pictures of everything including what is in drawers. I was amazed at the value of things in drawers even one filled with screws or hardware.

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2957 days

#8 posted 04-22-2014 01:38 PM

Smoke alarms are very sensitive to any particulate in the air.
Redoak49 is right on- always check your drawers. :D

The only dumb question is the one not asked- Dad

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3738 days

#9 posted 04-22-2014 01:42 PM

They are sensitive to dust – I did liek Redoak49 and have a heat detector.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View helluvawreck's profile


31056 posts in 2863 days

#10 posted 04-22-2014 02:00 PM

I’ve got heat detectors in my shop that will call up the fire department through the alarm system. The alarm company said that smoke detectors will not work in a wood shop.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4929 posts in 3957 days

#11 posted 04-22-2014 02:17 PM

The one in my shop is hard wired to the home alarm system. Never had a prob, but then I’ve not had a fire. BTW, it does not alarm when the shop is flooded (along with several parts of the house) when the washing machine decides to turn itself on and overflow. Maybe I need water detectors. :)


View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3738 days

#12 posted 04-22-2014 04:46 PM

Bill they certainly have the water detectors.

Where we are at now doesn’t need it, but there are little boxes with a pair of metal contacts that sit on the basement floor – and water completes the circuit to trigger the alarm. Others are sensors in a sump basin, and can tie into the home alarm system as well.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18268 posts in 3672 days

#13 posted 04-23-2014 04:33 AM

I have put in a lot more water detectors than smokes, but those were computer rooms, not shops ;-)

There is no reason they could not put a monitored water alarm in most systems. Generally speaking, smoke and water damage is more than any fire damage in most situations.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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