The beeping sound usually means it is time to change the batteries. But before you do anything, determine if your smoke detector is battery-only or hard wired. Remove the smoke detector from the ceiling by either sliding or twisting it off. If you see wires connected to the smoke alarm, then it is hard wired. Determine if you have multiple smoke alarms that are all connected.
If your smoke alarm is powered only by batteries…
Replace the batteries. Check on the back of the smoke alarm for battery as some manufacturers have exact specifications. The most common batteries, however, are 9 volt and AA. Now check that the batteries are working. Find the Test button on the smoke detector. Press the button for 1-5 seconds and you should hear an alarm. Then simply reinstall the smoke alarm. We suggest using longer life batteries such as lithium. If you do not hear an alarm, check to see if the batteries are installed correctly, positive to positive and negative to negative. Try different batteries and repeat. If the batteries are working properly, then you may have to replace a faulty smoke alarm.
If your smoke alarm is hard wired…
Turn the power off at the electrical panel to ensure safety. Most hard wired smoke alarms have batteries, so follow the same procedure as above. Hard wired smoke alarms typically have LED lights which help with the diagnostics. For models with green and red lights: green means it is working properly, red means it is not. Sometimes the green light will pulse. Other models also have a yellow light which will be on if the battery is low or a sensor is starting to get plugged; the yellow light comes on prior to the chirping, which of course means the batteries need to be replaced.
- Many new hard-wired smoke alarm models with battery backups have internal processors that store error codes. If you have one, make sure the unit has no batteries and no connected power; then clear the memory by pressing the TEST button for 15-20 seconds. If you don’t do this, the smoke alarm may continue to chirp – and you may incorrectly think the smoke alarm needs to be replaced.
- If all of your smoke alarms are connected, do yourself a favor and replace all the batteries at once. Get in the habit of proactively changing batteries to avoid future beeping nuisances. We suggest changing batteries every 6 months and cleaning the smoke alarm when you do so (see below).
If replacing the batteries still does not solve the chirping, then one of the following is probably the cause
1) Dust and Debris.
3 things to do, all of which should be done every time you change batteries as well:
- Blow out the vents with an air dust blower, like the one you use for a keyboard.
- Vacuum the outside of the smoke alarm. Vacuum the inside as well per manufacture specifications.
- Wipe off the outside of the smoke detector with a clean wipe and mild detergent to remove dirt buildup.
2) Alarm Malfunction (hard wired alarms).
The beeping will occur between Red LED pulses. One solution: hold the Test button for 2-5 seconds. If you do not hear the alarm, then your probably have a defective unit or possibly a bad battery.
3) Interference (wireless models).
There could be interference from similar systems. Review the user’s manual and adjust the dipswitches if necessary.
4) End of Life (sealed battery only).
You will hear a beep every 30 seconds or so. It is probably time to change out the alarm
Of course there is an EASY BUTTON to learn more on why your smoke alarm is chirping and how to fix – just call the professionals at EarlyBird Electric. EarlyBird electricians work on smoke alarm systems every day. Call 612-THE-BIRD (612-843-2473)