It can drive you to distraction, the constant unexplainable beeping of an electric smoke detector. Often it just needs the battery replaced but it may be a signal that it needs greater attention. This is a guide about troubleshooting ideas when an electric smoke detector won't stop beeping.
My fire alarm started chirping this morning and it woke me up. I don't have the correct batteries to replace it, but I've tried everything else and it continues to chirp after I turn it off. How do I make it stop without getting a new battery?
The batteries are probably low. If you don't have a new battery, just remove the old one to stop the chirping now. Then get a new battery as soon as possible, as you don't want to forget to replace it.
Why does my fire detector keep beeping when I am sleeping and everytime?
If it sounds like a chirp it means batteries need replaced. If it sounds like the regular alarm you may need to replace it assuming it's the kind that takes batteries. You don't want to get in the habit of ignoring the fire alarm sounding in case of a real fire!
My hardwired smoke detector is going off at the interval of every few hours. When one started the other two followed. All three are over 10 years old?
By Monica T.
All smoke detectors are supposed to be replaced about every 8-10 years, so you're due. New smoke detectors run about $5-$20, so it's not too bad, even for 3. I'm sure the fire department has a program to help if needed.
Some smoke detectors do take a 9-volt battery that can be replaced, but those usually chirp when the battery needs to be replaced - not go off. Even those should be swapped out every 10 years, so I'd still recommend replacement.
Another thing that can make some smoke detectors go off is if they get a lot of dust in them.
It is time to replace them. I am a fire fighter and depending on the type, they are to be replaced every 8-12 years.
I have a Kidde model 12060 hardwired smoke detector with battery back up. I came home and the unit was beeping. I got a ladder and put in a new battery. That was no good; it is still chirping. I tried a 2nd battery and the same thing. I turned off the circuit breaker, took out the battery, and it is still chirping. I took the unit down, replaced the battery, tested it, and the alarm sounded. I put it back up and have a green light in the small display, but it is still beeping. I checked all 5 units and all have green lights. It is still chirping and I cannot make it stop.
My hardwired smoke detector keeps beeping. I tried turning off all breakers, but it still beeps. I tried vacuuming the unit and wiping, that didn't help. It beeps about every 60 seconds. I disconnected the detector from the wiring, but it still beeps from the hardwired sensor. How can I get it to stop?
By Wayne L
Some hard wired smoke detectors have a battery in them for back up if there is a power failure. If the battery is running low the smoke detector will start making a chirping sound just as you described.
I have detached the smoke detector from the ceiling electrical contact, but the chirping continues without stopping.
By Andri from San Diego, CA
There are two "types" of smoke detectors. One type detects smoke and the other type "sees" fire. Either of these 2 units do not have a long life span only about 5-7 years. Just because the smoke detectors "beeps" does NOT prove the smoke detectors are in functioning order. The only way to test the smoke detectors is going outside and lighting a fire (log, newspaper etc.) away from any buildings and then slowing bring the smoke detector near the smoke and flame to hear if the smoke detector alarms. If no alarm sounds the smoke detector must be thrown away and a new one purchased, usually less than $10.00. More than 5,000 people die each year in house fires, most could be avoided if the smoke detector worked. PLEASE check all of the detectors in our house. Your life is worth more than a few bucks.
P.S. Where is your fire extinguisher? It should be placed near the exit of your house or work. NOT IN THE KITCHEN! If the fire is in the kitchen how would you reach the fire extinguisher? As you are exiting the building and the fire extinguisher is near the exit and you believe you can put the fire out then use the fire extinguisher at hand. Remember this acronym - PPS Pull the pin, Point the nozzle, Pull the handle, Sweep the base of the fire. If the fire is not contained get the heck out of the building, NOTHING in the building is worth your life.
Here is some detailed help for those of us who are "mechanically challenged."
First, check your carbon monoxide (CO2) detector, if you have one, to make sure it is not the one beeping. (If it is, open windows to air out the house and get some help to fix the problem.)
Second, make sure the temperature in your home is within the tolerable range for your detector. (Mine has to be above 40 degrees F, and below 100 degrees.)
Third, change the battery. (Some steps below may not apply to your smoke detector, but hopefully this list will help anyway.)
How to change the battery:
Look where the alarm is attached to the wall, and remove the little plastic "stick" that is stopping the alarm from being turned, if present. (Mine had one in a slot on the right side. It just pulled off.)
Turn alarm in the direction of the arrows on the front of smoke detector. (Mine only turned a tiny bit, clockwise, then I had to pull the alarm straight away from the wall.)
It may be connected still by wires to the wall (or to a hole in the wall actually.) Squeeze both sides of the plastic piece where the wires come out of the back of the alarm and pull straight away from the alarm to remove the plastic "plug" holding the wires.
Now, hopefully, you can open the battery door to change the battery. My battery compartment had a piece of plastic (like a stick) on a spring that popped up when battery was removed. I had to push the plastic stick down into the battery compartment, then push the new battery on top of it so the battery door would close.
If it still beeps after you change the battery, try flipping the battery over. If it still beeps, try a different, new battery, and try it flipped over if needed.
If it still beeps then you may have to buy a can of compressed air to blow the dust out, OR buy a new smoke detector, whichever is cheaper/easier.
I hope this helps others to avoid the hassle I had to figure out how to change the stupid battery. Mine is still beeping so I'll try the compressed air or buy a new smoke detector once it is daylight.
I have a beeping smoke alarm without a battery. I want it to stop beeping, what do I do? I have turned the power off and I have disconnected the plug from the back of the alarm, but it still won't stop beeping. What can I do?
By B C
Fixed the same problem thanks to my volunteer fireman neighbor. Vacuum the works. It probably does not even look like it needs it. New battery and you should be rid of the problem.
The electric smoke detactor has gone off twice today. I have a heater in the room with it (a bathroom) could that cause it? Can the heat fron the heater cause it to go off? I've checked the entire house, there is no smoke. So what's the problem? The detector is very old.
By Suzanne n
Why does the fire alarm beep for no reason? There are no fire hazards.
By Irwin W. from Danville, CA
Some smoke alarms beep if the batteries are dead or perhaps not put in correctly. Hard wired ones will have back up batteries that need to be replaced occasionally and they may beep if the are not wired properly.
There are some alarms also detect carbon monoxide. You may have a separate problem to investigate if it is a dual purpose alarm.
If it truly is broken, they are not that expensive to replace. It is very important to have a functioning smoke alarm.
Our electronic smoke detectors are going off during the night hours. This has happened last night 3 times. It is a warning beep because of a low battery. Does anybody know anything about this?
By Mark from Stafford, VA
Is your smoke detector also a carbon monoxide detector? I know with our smoke detectors the beep for a low battery is different than a beep for an alarm. My mother-in-law had a man come out for her stove and he said she had a severe gas leak, but nobody could smell it, but him, so it might be that and you just can't smell it.
There's about 6 fire alarms in my house. One alarm started going off then, all the other ones went off for about 30min. Finally it all stopped, but then started again. Now that all the beeping stopped, one continues to beep every minute.
I changed the battery and it still beeps, so I flipped the battery figuring it was in backwards. The darn thing still beeps, I pushed the test button and that didn't work. I don't know what else to do, and I need some sleep. I'd cut the power, but it's my grandparents house so I don't want to do anything I'd get in trouble for. Any advice would help.
By Rose M.
I had the same problem with a fire alarm in our two bedroom apartment that continually beeped in our living room. One of the maintenance men had to remove the alarm and install another one.
It's not always the battery, maybe the alarms need to replaced with new ones. The alarms in your grandparents home are probably the original ones.
Do all hard wired smoke detectors have batteries? Mine was chirping on and off and when I went up to open and see there was no battery. Is that normal?
If you don't have a user manual, use the manufacturer and model number. Go online and search their web site to see if/where the battery is. Also there may be a help line you can call.
I recently changed the batteries in 3 hard wired smoke detectors. After about 1 day (happened twice) they all go off at the same time. Any advise please? By the way I tried holding the test button down with the batteries out but no luck.
Most hardwired smoke detectors have a signal wire which tells all to sound when one goes off. I would take one out at a time, they usually twist on their base and have a plug in connector. When you find which is causing the problem you will probably need to replace it with the same or a compatible model. The other possibility is that when you changed the battery you dislodged some dirt which worked its way into the sensing chamber and causes the false alarm. Gently vacuuming out the detectors may solve the problem.
I know this sounds strange. We have electric smoke detectors. Are there batteries in them also? We have one that has started beeping and we can't stop it. Is there a battery in it or do we simply have to replace it? We have lived here 2 years (new) all the other batteries are OK. Our old house had electric smoke detectors and they never went bad. We lived there 15 years.
Sounds like there is a short somewhere. You need to contact a licensed electrician-he/she will have the tools and training to track down your problem. Do it as soon as you can because this could be a fire hazard; if you are on a very tight budget you can call the local fire department non-emergency number and ask if they know of any programmes in your area to help you.
I had the same issue. My detector beeped loudly once a minute; and another one beeped once a minute, so beeps were heard every 30 seconds from 2 detectors. I vacuumed the units, turned off circuit breaker, disconnected wire unit from detectors, replaced batteries, held test button with battery out and then with battery in. None of this helped. All detectors had green solid light. I tried to solve all day and got a headache of course.
Finally (and this is noted by others too), I checked my plug-in (stand alone, not connected/wired to house or to smoke detectors) carbon monoxide detector (Kiddie brand, bought about 3 years ago; smoke detectors came with new house, now about 8 years old). I had just quickly plugged the carbon detector units into outlets and forgot about them. The carbon monoxide detector was going off! It had a red light flashing. My second carbon monoxide detector (Kiddie, same as this one) was NOT alarming and had steady green light! I unplugged the flashing carbon detector and INSTANTLY all smoke detectors were quiet Yikes! There was no carbon monoxide, I'm not sure why it went off.
So I'd suggest if you have wired/electrical smoke detectors to try unplugging various other things; sensor lights, alarms, small appliances, anything recently plugged in, etc. It might not make sense but it's an easy quick thing to try before trying complicated or expensive solutions, and to avoid headaches! Good luck!
My smoke alarm keeps beeping and it won't stop beeping.
It needs a new battery.
My smoke detector won't stop beeping. I have done all of your suggestions. What else is there to do?