A beeping smoke alarm is probably one of the most annoying things we may ever have to deal with at home. At 2 in the morning, it’s no fun to fool around with a chirping smoke detector!
If you have a smoke alarm that's falsing or going off for no obvious reason, find out what to do here: Smoke Detector Problems and How to Solve Them.
Knowing how to deal with a chirping smoke alarm is a handy home
improvement DIY skill. Here’s how to locate and fix the offending unit,
without going “medieval” on it…
If you have a home security system, you may have hardwired smoke detectors tied to it. Check to see if the alarm system keypads are beeping and/or showing fire trouble. Home alarm systems will give an audible and/or visual indication at the keypads, and monitored systems will send a signal to the central station.
Most wired smoke detectors that connect to a home alarm system DON'T make noise themselves. That's what the keypads and sirens are for.
Notify your alarm company if the system shows any fire trouble condition. They can talk you through steps to diagnose exactly what the problem is.
If you have a smoke detector beeping, but the keypads are quiet, you can be reasonably sure the problem smoke detector isn’t part of the alarm system.
Try to locate which smoke detector won’t stop beeping. This is easier if you have a ladder, so you can get close to the detector. Houses more than a few years old often have 2 or 3 different kinds and brands of smoke detectors installed, sometimes right next to each other. In that case, try holding a folded bath towel over one of the units to muffle the beeping. This should make it easier to tell which one is chirping.
If you still can’t narrow down the offending device, consult an electrician. They have the tools and experience to quickly find a bad smoke detector.
If you have more than one smoke detector beeping, you likely have an electrical problem with the house wiring. 110-volt hardwired smoke detectors are usually wired to each other in a string. If one unit loses a connection, all the units will chirp. This is also a job for an electrician.
After replacing the battery in a beeping smoke alarm, always test the unit. Many have test instructions molded into the plastic housing, or printed on an attached sticker. If you don’t see test info on the device itself, try googling the model number. User instructions are widely available, and most are free to download.
Smoke alarms usually have a test button, which must be pressed and held for a few seconds to activate. Some have the button recessed behind a small hole in the housing, so use an unfolded paper clip to press the button.
For details on cleaning and testing smoke detectors, see System Sensor Smoke Detectors, Cleaning and Testing.
For ways to avoid smoke detector problems before they happen, see Preventing Smoke Alarm Problems.
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