Not only is smoke alarm beeping irritating, but it could be an indication that something is wrong and it isn’t working properly, which means that you and your family may be in danger. There are several reasons why your smoke detector might beep, and various sounds that it could make.
If you suspect that your smoke alarm may be faulty, it is always a good idea to call a professional electrician for help and advice. However, it doesn’t hurt to understand some of the noises that smoke detectors make, and why they make them.
This complete guide covers the main types of smoke alarm beeping, what it may indicate, and how to change smoke alarm battery if required.
What is causing my smoke alarm to sound, beep, or chirp?
Smoke alarm beeping, whether a continuous sound or intermittent, usually suggests either a false alarm or a fault with the smoke detector. Of course, it may also indicate a real fire so you should always check for this first, even if it seems unlikely. Otherwise, it could be that you need to change smoke alarm battery, the alarm needs to be replaced, or it needs to be cleaned.
Different sounds indicate different issues, so read on to find out what different types of smoke alarm beeping mean.
You can also call smoke alarm installation experts in Brisbane if you prefer an expert to take care of the situation.
Loud, continuous alarming
If your smoke alarm beeping is loud and continuous, this is either due to a real fire or a false alarm. This type of alarming is caused by the smoke detector sensing combustible products. First, you must determine whether it is a real alarm or a false alarm.
Several factors may cause a false alarm. Check that the batteries are installed properly and that the sensing chamber is clean. It may also be caused by humidity, steam, an electrical issue, or the smoke alarm coming to the end of its life. If you can’t determine the cause, it may be best to consult a qualified electrician.
There are several reasons why your smoke detector might make a consistent chirping sound, for example, if it chirps every 30 to 60 seconds for at least 7 days, this could be a sign that the batteries need to be replaced. If the alarm is chirping between flashes of the red LED light, the alarm may be malfunctioning.
Alternatively, if the hush feature of the alarm is activated then the alarm will chirp every 30 to 40 seconds for about 7 minutes. Sealed battery models will also chirp every 30 seconds to signal that it is time for the alarm to be replaced. Finally, consistent chirping of a wireless alarm may indicate that there is interference from a similar system close by.
Intermittent chirping (without a regular pattern)
If your smoke detector is chirping intermittently, you should first check that the batteries are properly installed and the sensing chamber is clean. If this does not fix the problem, then it may be caused by humidity in the air, an electrical issue, or the alarm reaching the end of its life.
Why is the smoke alarm flashing red?
Smoke alarms have a red light that flashes every 40-60 seconds to indicate that they are operating. This light will flash continuously if the alarm is activated, and if you have interconnected alarms this will let you know which smoke alarm was triggered. If your alarm is in silence mode, the light may also flash more rapidly.
Alternatively, a flashing red light may indicate a low battery, a fault with the smoke detector, or that the smoke detector needs to be replaced.
How to change smoke alarm battery
Changing a smoke alarm battery is different for different models and different types of smoke detectors. However, the basic steps are similar. If your smoke alarm is secured to the ceiling in a bracket, you will first need to remove it from the bracket. Next, remove the cover. This can often be done with your hands, but some models require a screwdriver.
Remove the old battery and replace it with the new one. Once the new battery and the alarm are secured, press the test button to ensure that it is working. If it does not work, you can try different batteries or check the connections. If it still doesn’t work, the alarm may need to be replaced.
Why smoke alarm goes off randomly
There are several reasons why your smoke detector may go off randomly. It may be triggered by burnt food or fireplaces, or even by steam, humidity, or chemical smells. Insects or dirt and dust can also get into the alarm, causing it to go off.
Try keeping your home well-ventilated, especially whilst cooking or using paint or harsh chemicals, and clean out your smoke alarm. Alternatively, false alarms may be a sign that the alarm is old and
needs to be replaced.
Why smoke alarm beeps without a battery
Smoke alarm beeping is typically a sign that there is a problem with the alarm, and removing the battery often does not stop the beeping. Instead, you will need to determine the cause of the beeping. Try cleaning the smoke detector, and if you can’t find the cause, contact a professional electrician as the unit may need to be replaced.
How to turn off the smoke alarm (if false alarm)
Once you have confirmed that it is a false alarm and not a real fire, you can use the hush/ test button to temporarily silence the alarm. For interconnected alarms, you will need to find the initiating alarm and reset it. Resetting is different depending on the model and type of smoke detector.
Check out the smoke alarm testing article for more info. on testing smoke alarms.
Changed batteries in smoke detector and still beeping?
Smoke detectors will make a chirping noise when their batteries need to be replaced. In many cases changing the batteries in your smoke detector will cause it to stop beeping. However, this is not always the case.
If your smoke detector keeps chirping after you have changed the batteries, the first thing to try is resetting the smoke alarm manually which will clear any errors from the processor. To do this, first turn off the power to the smoke detector at the circuit breaker.
Next, remove the battery and press and hold the test button for 30 seconds before inserting the new battery and closing the terminal. You can now restore power to the circuit breaker to test whether the problem is fixed. The smoke detector should chirp once when it is reconnected, but you should not experience any further low battery chirping.
If the chirping continues, you should also check that the new battery is installed correctly and that the battery drawer is completely closed. This is essential for the new battery to make contact with the terminals.
Furthermore, the alarm will continue to chirp if there is any obstruction that is preventing any part of the terminal from making contact, so check to ensure that any obstructions are fully removed. Fully cleaning the alarm with a microfiber cloth or a can of compressed air will help to remove even the smallest obstructions.
If you have followed all of the above steps and your smoke detector continues to chirp, then it is possible that there is another reason for the beeping. For example, the smoke detector may need to be replaced or it could be caused by temperature fluctuations in the home.
As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to replace your smoke alarm batteries once every six months, and replace the smoke detector itself every 8-10 years.
Also, check out the Smoke alarm rules Australia page for more info.