How do smoke alarms know that it’s the middle of the night?
Why is 3 am the perfect time for your batteries to call out to you CHIRP . . . CHIRP . . . CHIRP? Whether you have a chirping smoke alarm or your being proactive and changing the batteries before they wake you in the middle of the night, here’s some basic instructions for a sucessful battery swap.
Of course, smoke alarms are designed to make noise when it’s most important. Smoke alarms save lives by alerting family members that dangerous levels of smoke have been detected. Today’s smoke detectors are wired on one circuit, meaning your alarms will still function even if the batteries are dead.
Reset the Smoke Detector
Just like a computer, before you buy new batteries or a whole new computer, the good old reset is always a good option. However, resetting smoke detectors is a bit more complicated. Since the smoke detectors are all hardwired together, if one smoke detector has an error or a bad battery, it can cause others to chirp. Think of this like your car. Once you car’s computer has detected an error, even if the problem is solved, the service technician also has to reset the car’s computer in order for the error to go away. So, gather some 9 volt batteries and get out your step ladder. It’s best to reset and change the batteries in all of your smoke detectors at the same time. You should change the batteries in your smoke detector every six months.
To reset your fire alarm:
1. Turn off the power to the smoke detector at your circuit breaker.
2. Remove the detector from its mounting bracket and unplug the power supply.
3. Remove and replace the battery from the smoke detector.
4. With the battery removed, press and hold the test button for 15-20 seconds. Once reset, the smoke detector should chirp one more time.
5. Replace the new battery in the detector and plug in the power supply.
6. Restore power to the circuit breaker.
7. Reattach the breaker to mounting bracket. You can watch a simplified version of this process here.
What if your Smoke Detector is Still Chirping?
Clear Any Dust Smoke alarms need to be free of any dust or debris to work correctly. Sadly, if cobwebs, spiders or any other intrusion made its way into the smoke detector, it’s at risk to malfunction, even during a fire. Additionally, dust and other debris can also cause it to beep (common during construction). If your alarm is still beeping, try taking an air dust blower (similar to one used for keyboards) and blow inside the alarm’s vents. You can also do this while changing the batteries.
Test Silent Button
It’s always a good idea to test your smoke alarm. Sadly, sometimes those tests turn into your worst nightmare (where the smoke detector does not stop beeping). Additionally, the test/silent button can occasionally be pushed even when it was not intended. Either way, if your smoke alarm is still beeping after trying the three tactics below, remove the smoke detector and test it without the batteries inside.
Buy A New Smoke Detector
Smoke detectors do not last a lifetime. If your smoke detector is more than 10 years old, the unit should be replaced. Likewise, if you tried all four solutions above, chances are, you need a new fire alarm. Fortunately, most smoke detectors cost less than $20 at The Home Depot. Don’t risk your family’s safety for $20, especially if your smoke detector is more than 10 years old.
What Smoke Detector Noises Mean
Even though most smoke detectors are different, their sounds tend to have the same meanings. For example, in case of a fire, your smoke alarm will continuously beep. If it beeps with spaces, chances are, the batteries are low. Nonetheless, to 100% determine the meaning of the noise, you should consult the manual or manufacturer’s website. Additionally, they should also have recommendations as to how to stop the smoke detector from beeping. If you believe your smoke detector is malfunctioning and you are still under your one year warranty, contact warranty for support.