My smoke alarm won’t stop beeping. Help!

Beeping smoke alarms are pretty common, and there’s usually an easy fix for them. Before you shut up beeping smoke alarm for good, however, you should know why it’s beeping in the first place. It’s good to know stuff, and it turns out that beeping is happening for a reason. That’s why we’d like to start with just a little background information:

How many different smoke alarms are there?

There are three different smoke alarms. The difference between them is their power source:

The first (and worst) smoke alarms use replaceable batteries
Other smoke alarms use long-lasting lithium batteries (better, but never #1)
And then there’s the best smoke alarm: the smoke alarm that’s hard-wired and uses 120-volt power. This is the smoke alarm gold medalist – soon to be on a box of cereal – and by far the best choice when it comes to smoke alarms.

Why do smoke alarms beep in the first place?

They want to get your attention. Well, okay, smoke alarms are wires, plastic, electronics and circuits. They really can’t “want” anything. But they are built to get your attention in case:

  • there’s a fire
  • the battery needs replacing
  • there’s an error in the processor
  • the wiring is screwed up

Other reasons your smoke alarm is beeping:

  • Make sure you removed the battery pull-tab.
  • Be positive the battery drawer is totally closed.
  • Check that the battery is making complete contact with the terminals in the alarm.
  • If the thermostat is set at a very high or low temperature, the smoke alarm may detect it and issue an alert.
  • The alarm may also chirp if it detects hot air coming from the kitchen or bathroom. One way to avoid this is to move the alarm away from the kitchen or bathroom door.

Always assume a beeping smoke alarm means there’s a fire. You have a ton of resources to keep your family safe, but saving your life is not our job here.

Our job is saving your sanity from beeping smoke alarms. Let’s get to that:

What do I do if the smoke alarm keeps beeping?

Okay, so the smoke alarm just won’t. stop. beeping. You’re afraid that if it goes on much longer, you won’t be able to take it any longer. The first thing to just press and hold the reset button. If that doesn’t work and the infernal beeping continues, you should replace the batteries or battery. Side note: instead of writing “batteries or battery” all the time, we’re going to go with batteries. If there’s only one, you’ll figure it out.

Replacing batteries might be the solution to your problem, even if your smoke alarm is hard-wired. Hard-wired smoke alarms use batteries as a back-up. When those back-up batteries need replacing, the alarm will tell you. In the most annoying way possible. Remove the batteries and replace them with long-lasting batteries.

Actually, we suggest replacing your batteries on a regular basis. You shouldn’t wait until you have to deal with the beeping. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests you put fresh batteries in your alarms whenever you set your clocks for Daylight Saving Time. Why is this so important? Because, every year, about 2,200 people die in home fires because their smoke alarm wasn’t working.

If you can’t replace your batteries…

On that somber note, if your smoke alarm has lithium batteries you won’t be able to replace them. You’re going to have to replace the entire smoke alarm. Take some solace in the fact the batteries and the smoke alarm probably lasted ten years.
Of course, the problem with a smoke alarm that has lithium batteries is that the b e e p i n g will continue. Figure out a way to muffle the noise until it stops or you can safely dispose of the alarm.

Hardwired smoke alarms are all connected to each other. If one of them goes bad, they all might beep on you. You’ll have to figure out the culprit to make the beeping stop. It’s kind of like finding the bad light on a string of Christmas lights. Resetting every single smoke alarm should do the trick. If it doesn’t, try flipping the circuit breaker off and back on. That might stop the noise.

The Last Resort

Your last shot at shutting up the *beeping* beeping is disconnecting your smoke alarms and remove their batteries. Be sure to unclip the small connector at the back of each alarm to safely remove it from the network.

If that still doesn’t work, sorry. You need new smoke alarms. Unfortunately, nothing lasts forever.

Smoke detectors usually last eight to 10 years. Look on the back side of the smoke alarm to find the date it was manufactured. Even if your detectors aren’t that old, however, you may have to replace them if they begin malfunctioning. If you’ve tried everything listed here and they still won’t stop beeping, then it’s time to bite the bullet.

‌Annoying as it may be, at the end of the day this is all a small price to pay for functional fire alarms. If you’re worried your fire alarms aren’t working or you need help with the beep, you know who to call. …It’s us. Call EarlyBird Electric – proudly serving the Greater Twin Cities Metro area. We’ll be there to help in a hurry.