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Why Is My Smoke Detector Beeping When There’s No Fire?

Health & Safety | Security Products

Beep. Beep. Beep. Did you hear that?

When smoke detectors beep and chirp and you don’t know why, it’s easy to get frustrated. But your device is trying to tell you something! Smoke detectors save lives, so resist the urge to just pull out the batteries or ditch them altogether. Instead, read on to learn about the most common causes of smoke alarm beeping so you can address the problem.

Common reasons why smoke detectors beep when there isn’t a fire:

  • It’s time to change the battery
  • Smoke detector is outdated, or expired
  • Smoke detector is damaged
  • Build-up of dirt, dust, or insects
  • Smoke detector placement
  • Humidity and steam
  • Cooking

Before you deal with your beeping smoke detector, answer these important questions:

1. Are your smoke alarms battery operated or hardwired? Standalone smoke detectors that only use batteries don’t require electrical wiring. Hardwired smoke detectors are connected directly to your home’s power supply and require professional installation. Many include a back-up battery to keep them functional during power outages. You can learn more about smoke detector technology here.

2. Do you have local or “standard” smoke detectors, or are your smoke detectors part of your security system? A local smoke detector is a standalone sensor, so all your interactions with it happen directly at the device. It will beep, flash, and/or siren when activated, and if there’s no fire, you usually dismiss it by pressing/holding a button or interrupting the power.

If your fire alarm devices are integrated and monitored, like what we offer here at Guardian, your smoke detectors may not beep at the actual device. Instead, issues are reported to your security panel or keypad. Your panel will beep and display a message that action is needed. Some newer smoke detectors actually do both — beep at the device and the security panel.

If a fire is detected, you may also receive a mobile alert like this:

fire alert mobile app

You have 2 minutes to Cancel or Verify* the alarm from the app (only users who have “Master” access can cancel/verify; this can be updated by logging in to MyGuardianHome.com). If you do nothing, Guardian will take the usual steps to contact you, or notify the fire department if needed. If you know there isn’t a fire, you can also dismiss the alarm at the panel by entering your code.

If you need help dealing with trouble signals not caused by a fire, check out this post on how to stop the beeping.

3. Are you absolutely sure there isn’t a fire? Always, always, always rule out a fire (or the smoky beginnings of one) before dismissing a beeping smoke alarm. There may be smoke somewhere you can’t see it, so please play it safe!

For more fire safety tips to help protect your home and family, download our free Fire Safety Guide!

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It’s time to change the battery

Low batteries are the most common reason smoke detectors beep or send a trouble signal to your security panel, when there is no smoke or fire. As the battery weakens, the device will beep regularly to let you know it’s time to replace it.

Test the batteries in your smoke alarms on a monthly basis and replace them twice a year. To help you remember, we suggest changing them at Daylight Saving Time in the spring and fall. 

For easy instructions on how to change the battery on Guardian Protection smoke detectors and other devices, check out the how-to videos on our YouTube channel.

Remember, before you change your Guardian Protection smoke detector battery, make sure your system is disarmed and go to Guardian’s Customer Care Website to place your system on Test Mode. This ensures Guardian doesn’t accidentally dispatch the authorities to your home.

If you’re pretty sure your batteries still have some juice, rule out other possible battery-related issues, such as:

  • Your using the wrong batteries
  • The battery pull-tab is still intact
  • The battery drawer is open
  • The batteries were put in the wrong way

Tip: Some newer hardwired smoke alarms have internal processors that store error codes, like low-battery. If you changed the batteries and it continues to chirp, that may be why. If your smoke detector is still beeping after you reset the error codes, get it checked out by a pro.

Your smoke detector is outdated, or expired

Smoke detectors aren’t designed to last forever. On average, they need to be replaced every 7-10 years.

You can find the date of manufacture on the back of your smoke alarm. Remember that the date of purchase isn’t the date of manufacture, so even if you have just purchased new alarms, you should check the date.

Try to make it a habit to check the date once a year. You can note the replace date somewhere noticeable, or even set a reminder on your phone or calendar.

To keep your devices in shape and prevent false beeping, try replacing them before they reach the 10-year mark. If you aren’t sure how old the alarms are in your home, it’s time to replace them.

The smoke detector is damaged or faulty

Smoke detectors can be damaged when exposed to something like water, paint, stickers, fire, or grease, or by force and tampering. If you think your smoke detector is faulty or damaged, contact your manufacturer. Guardian customers can just give us a call directly at 1.800.PROTECT.

Smoke detector is placed incorrectly

The proper placement of smoke alarms is as important as choosing the right one. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the major threat from fire in a dwelling unit occurs at night when everyone is asleep. That’s why they recommend installing smoke detectors inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on every level of your home, including the basement (and also why 24/7 monitored fire alarms are so beneficial).

To avoid hindering their performance or causing false alarms, here is where you should NOT place smoke detectors:

  • Directly above a sink, cooker, stove or oven
  • Next to a door or window that would be affected by drafts (extractor fan or air vent)
  • Outdoors
  • Where air flow would be obstructed by curtains or furniture
  • Where it could be knocked, damaged, or inadvertently removed
  • In or below a cupboard
  • Where dirt or dust could collect and block the sensor
  • Within 10 feet of any cooking appliance

Humidity and steam

Smoke detectors may react to extreme heat and moisture, and it doesn’t mean your smoke detector is defective. For example, thick humidity and smoke have some things in common; the density of the moisture particles can trick your device into thinking a steamy shower is something more sinister. In that case, you can simply move your smoke detectors away from the bathroom.

Objects that generate heat or rooms that get especially humid can potentially set off your smoke detectors. Keep your devices away from furnaces, laundry rooms, and fireplaces, and do your best to ventilate these spaces.

Cooking

Depending on your home’s layout, burning food or just cooking a big meal can trigger your smoke alarm. To lessen the chance of a false alarm while cooking large meals, try the following:

  • Keep a close eye on your food while cooking.
  • Crack open a window before you start cooking.
  • Set up a fan near your smoke detector.
  • Use a smoke detector cover, which can often be found at a hardware store or online.
  • If you have Guardian smoke detectors, put your system in test mode temporarily.

If you do set up a fan or use a smoke detector cover while cooking, don’t forget to put everything back the way it was when you’re finished.

Dirt, dust, or insects are blocking the sensor

A build-up of debris in your smoke alarm can confuse it and prevent it from communicating correctly. Keep your smoke alarm healthy by dusting it lightly with a dry rag on a regular basis, and by opening it and cleaning it out once a year. Don’t use liquid sprays or cleaning products.

After cleaning, test the alarm to make sure it’s still working properly.

Why are all my smoke detectors beeping together?

Connected smoke detectors are designed to do this. If one senses a problem, the others will follow suit. This is a safety feature that helps make sure you hear the alarm wherever you are. To address the issue, find the device that originally started the response. There should be a visual indication like a flashing red light, but double-check with your manufacturer to confirm.

If you have Guardian monitored smoke detectors, the fire department will be notified in the event of an emergency thanks to our 24/7 monitoring center, even if you sleep through an alarm or if you’re not home. Plus, we monitor fire and CO alarms for our customers for no additional charge.

Give us a call at 1.800.PROTECT (1.800.776.8328) to learn more about our professionally monitored fire alarm systems.

*Guardian Protection has several different types of alarm systems ranging from basic to advanced. The Cancel/Verify feature is available for customers who access their alarm system dashboard at MyGuardianHome.com. If you’re interested in learning more or finding out if your current security system includes this feature, please contact us at 1.800.PROTECT (1.800.776.8328).

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