How to Stop Smoke Alarm From Beeping?

Smoke alarms play a vital role in the household: alerting the presence of a fire while there is still time to take action.
However, if these devices beep when there is no smoke, not only is it unnerving but it can also put your safety at risk. 

In this article, Plumbelec Inspections explain what can be activating your smoke alarm other than fire. We will also give recommendations on how to stop the unwanted beeping to keep your device functioning at its best. 

5 Reasons Why Your Smoke Alarm is Beeping

While smoke alarms are aimed to give early warnings in the event of a fire, it often happens that they beep for other reasons. Most of the time, either the alarm is communicating a malfunction or the sensors are being activated by external elements. 

Here are the main reasons why your smoke alarm may be beeping:

Smoke Alarm Battery

Issues with the battery are the most common reasons for unwanted beeping. Soon before they need replacement, smoke alarms will warn you by emitting a sound. Otherwise, they could be letting you know that the battery is not making proper contact with the terminal. This happens when they are loose or incorrectly placed, or the drawer is not properly closed.

Even hardwired devices have a backup battery whose life will end at some point. As per the Australian council for fire and emergency services, removable batteries should be replaced annually, including the ones in smoke alarms powered primarily by 240 Volts. 

The beeping from a fading battery is different from the sound made in response to smoke, and it should stop as soon as you change them or fix them better into their place. But if it continues, try resetting the device. Otherwise, you should consider one of the other reasons mentioned below. 

Dirty Device

It is very common for dirt to build up within the sensing chamber or the battery terminal of the smoke alarm. Plus, these devices are the perfect spot for insects to nest and die. Exposure to dust, debris, pollen or corrosion can obstruct the sensor and trigger a false alarm. Airborne particles may also set off light sensitive units. In any case, you should wipe or dust the outside of your device regularly, and clean the interior whenever you change the batteries. Just remember not to use cleaning products and be mindful not to damage the sensors. 

Another Device or Appliance Beeping

People often hear a beeping sound and immediately assume that it comes from the smoke alarm. The origin of this high pitch noise can be hard to trace, especially with so many devices generally scattered around the house. Keep in mind that any security unit, monitor or alarm may beep when running low on batteries, and replacing these should solve the problem. 

Life has Ended

According to the Australian council for fire and emergency services (AFAC), smoke alarms operate at their optimum for up to 10 years. After this time, the risk of the alarm not performing well increases. As the service life date approaches, the smoke alarm will start emitting a beeping sound. If your alarm is beeping, you should check the date indicated in the base of the unit, and the warranty period of the battery used. If either are about to expire, follow the manufacturer’s specifications on how to replace them. The AFAC advises that end-of-life smoke alarms should be replaced with interconnected smoke alarms, either connected to mains power with battery back-up or powered by a long-life battery.

Temperature Fluctuations in the Home

Apart from smoke, many smoke alarms are also sensitive to heat. As such, they may be activated by sudden changes in temperature due to air conditioners, thermostats, heaters, fans and other temperature control devices. Natural temperature drops may set off your alarm as well, so keep this in mind if your unit is beeping in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. Steam from kitchens and bathrooms can also trigger false alarms, compromising the unit’s effectiveness.

A Quick Checklist to Stop the Beeping

The beeping sound is not only unpleasant but it also interferes with the purpose of a smoke alarm. The following checklist is the ABC on how to stop the beeping, covering the most common causes mentioned before:

  • Check manufacturers date: If your device is approaching the end of its life cycle (about ten years), it is time to replace it with a new unit. 
  • Replace batteries: The AFAC recommends replacing removable batteries annually with long-life batteries. 
  • Clean the unit: The AFAC recommends cleaning the smoke alarm at least once a year with a vacuum cleaner, to remove dust and other particles that affect its performance. 
  • Reset alarm to drain residual charge after changing the batteries, or after a power outage. This can be done by pressing the reset button, whose location depends on the unit’s design and is shown in the product’s manual. 
  • Check the location of the smoke alarm: Look for vents, windows, fans, or whether it is placed too close to the kitchen or bathroom. If the beeping continues, relocate the alarm to avoid direct sunlight, humidity, heating and cooling.

Why Should You Fix Your Smoke Alarm? 

Smoke alarms are mandatory devices to be installed in all domestic and residential accommodation in Australia. Their purpose is to detect smoke, heat, gases and other combustion particles. Their proper functioning is critical for the early detection of a fire, which gives people a valued chance to escape in time. If a smoke alarm is activated by anything other than a product of combustion, it reduces the power of its warning and thus increases the risk of death or injuries. Furthermore, the AFAC has urged that many devices have become disabled after repeated false alarms. For this reason, it is imperative to fix your smoke alarm and keep it properly maintained. 

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