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Why Is My Smoke Alarm Beeping & How Do I Stop It?

Is there anything more annoying than a smoke alarm chirping or sounding for no apparent reason?

But a smoke alarm can beep for a variety of reasons. While the obvious cause will be a fire, most people who experience a smoke alarm beeping will thankfully not be dealing with a fire. For that reason, it’s a good idea to know why your alarm is beeping, and how to stop your smoke alarm from beeping.

A loud, continuous alarm is cause to check for fire. This same alarm can be caused by a dirty sensor chamber, humidity or steam, or an electrical fault. In our experience burning toast is a common culprit. Evadare Smoke Alarms are designed to detect low, smoldering fires and are not as prone to nuisance cooking alarms.

If a smoke alarm is chirping it could need a new battery. If the battery is not removable it could be malfunctioning. It can also mean the alarm has reached the end of its life, and you will need to replace the whole unit.

It is worth noting that in Queensland legislation states that from 1 January 2022 for dwellings being leased/released or sold, or 1 January 2027 for all other dwellings, all battery operated smoke alarms must be 10-year non-removable battery smoke alarms (which is what we stock).

How To Hush Your Smoke Alarm

If there is no fire, you will want to know how to stop the smoke alarm from chirping. The first step is to clear the air around the alarm of any steam or smoke and check if the alarm sensor is free of debris. Then you can try the reset button. Depending on your model you may have specific instructions to reset the alarm.

If you have a detector that uses a removable battery, the next step is to replace the battery. If the alarm is still not silent, it may be time to buy a new smoke detector. If you have a mains-powered smoke alarm then it is time to call an electrician.

Can humidity set off a smoke alarm?

Yes, high humidity and steam can interfere with the sensor, and set off the alarm as if there was smoke in the room. For that reason smoke alarms should not be installed in or just outside of the bathroom.

How do I know if I should call an electrician?

For wireless smoke alarms it is best to replace the unit if you cannot stop the beeping. If you are unsure of how to do this then it is time to call an electrician. If you have a wired smoke alarm you are required to have a licensed electrician replace the unit for you.

When to install a new smoke alarm

If replacing the batteries hasn’t worked or your smoke detector is nearly 10 years old then it is time to install a new one. Regardless of manufacturer, all smoke alarms have a limited life of 10 years.

Tips to Minimise False Alarms

Tip 1. Keep your smoke alarms clean

Dirt and insects are a very common reason for smoke detectors going off inappropriately. Physical obstructions can interact with the sensor and cause your smoke alarm to activate. For a quick solution, carefully dust and vacuum your smoke alarm to remove dirt. You can also spray insect repellent around the alarm (avoid spraying the alarm directly!) to deter bugs.

Tip 2. Ventilate for steam and fumes

Steam and cooking fumes can cause smoke alarms to go off. Shut bathroom and laundry doors to contain steam, use the exhaust fan when cooking and open up doors and windows for ventilation.

Tip 3. Manage humidity

In high humidity, condensation can cause water vapours to form and cause the smoke to react as it would to smoke vapour. If you suspect this is happening you can dry the smoke alarm yourself by gently blowing a hair dryer through it to evaporate moisture.

Tip 4. Rapid air movement

Another common culprit is rapid air movement created by fans or fan heaters, so point portable fans, heaters, radiators and air conditioning ducts away from smoke alarms. When installed, smoke alarms should also be placed away from air conditioning ducts.

Tip 5. Battery and power issues

Power surges can cause hardwired smoke alarms to beep. It should resolve itself after the power issue has passed, but if not you can try resetting the power by flipping it off and on again at your circuit box.

In some areas of QLD and NSW, electricity suppliers inject an off-peak signal onto the network (a ‘ripple’) which can set off smoke alarms. If your smoke alarm beeps at the same time each day it could be this.

A beeping alarm can signal a low battery. In some Australian states it’s now a requirement that alarms are fitted with 10-year lithium batteries or hardwired into the mains power supply, so properly fitted and working alarms shouldn’t have battery issues.

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