Is Your Smoke Detector Chirping? Here Are Some Tips

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Many smoke detectors in older homes contain batteries, so they can be disconnected and used as a backup power source when the primary power fails. But most newer smoke detectors have a backup battery that’s rechargeable rather than replaceable. These smoke detectors have a button that is pressed to “test” them, but pressing the button won’t stop the chirping. If the detector in your home is a wired model, you can fix the problem by disconnecting the wiring.

A smoke detector has a sensor that keeps its “eye” open and sends a signal to the central station when smoke is detected. The signal is sent as an electric pulse, and that pulse needs to be amplified in order to be detected. That’s where the wired smoke detector’s battery comes into play. The smoke detector’s battery is wired in parallel to the detector itself, so that when the battery dies, the detector’s own power is depleted.

To disable the chirping, remove the battery from the smoke detector. Then press the battery’s button (it may have a small hole on its top), and hold it there for at least 10 seconds. (If that doesn’t quiet the chirping, repeat the exercise.)

Once you’ve disabled the chirping, replace the battery and reconnect the wiring. Then press the test button on the smoke detector to make sure it’s working.

To prevent the chirping again, replace the battery at least once a year. Consider testing it every time you replace the battery.

Smoke detectors are important for more than just making sure you wake up to the smell of something delicious in the morning. They save lives.

Unfortunately, a lot of Americans don’t take care of smoke detectors, and it’s especially tragic when the failure is fatal.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month (monthly, quarterly, or semi-annually, depending on your state’s regulations) and batteries replaced twice a year.


Susan Kowal
Susan Kowal is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor/advisor, and health enthusiast.