Faulty Smoke Detectors – How to Get The Smoke Detector To Stop Beeping

Faulty Smoke Detectors

Why does it always happen in the middle of the night, on a night where you went to bed early and were trying to get a solid night’s sleep.

Last night, at 1:45 a.m., our fire alarm went off. It blared throughout the house for about 1 to 2 seconds, and then stopped. We woke up, absolutely panicked, hearts thumping in our chests.

When the alarm went off a moment later, I realized what had happened – another of our faulty smoke detectors went bad.

Change Your Batteries to Stop Smoke Detector Beeping

Most homeowners know that smoke detectors need batteries every year. In fact, you should probably pick two days out of the year that are roughly six months apart and replace the batteries then. Pick January 1 and July 1, or your birthday and six months later. Or the longest and shortest day of the year.

How do you know when you need to replace the batteries in your smoke detector? Your smoke detector might start beeping – a sign that you need to replace the batteries – or, a green light will go off or turn red. Your smoke detector might just sound an alarm that won’t turn off until you yank it down from the ceiling and disconnect the bad battery.

All of these are signs that you need new batteries. Since batteries are expensive, I’d buy them at Costco or Sam’s club and just keep a huge pack of 9-Volts or AAAs next to your tools, so your kids don’t poach them for their technology toys or video games.

Change Your Smoke Detector Every Five Years

We replace our smoke detector batteries regularly. But what many homeowners don’t realize is that smoke detectors themselves – the actual smoke detector unit – goes bad every 3 to 5 years. Even if the label tells you to replace it in 10 years. Our experience is that our smoke detectors go bad (or burn out) around every five years, which is the industry average.

At that point, there’s nothing to do but go find a smoke detector sale, buy up a bunch and start the cycle all over again.

Our faulty smoke detector – the one that woke us up in the middle of the night – is 5 years, 10 months old. How do I know? Because on the back side, it had a manufactured date of January 4, 2004. It was made in China and there is a small label that says, “Replace in 10 years.”

That’s helpful – especially at 1:45 a.m.

Make the Fire Alarm Stop Blaring, Please!

We have a fairly extensive alarm system. We put it in because our homeowners’ insurance policy was reduced so much it essentially pays for the alarm system. Everything is tied into the house alarm system and some pieces of it are tied into the master alarm company. So, if our house catches fire, or a burglar gets in, our alarm is supposed to trip and send to hot message to the alarm company, which is supposed to call the police or fire department.

But at the same time, an internal house fire alarm goes off. It’s very loud. How loud? Let’s just say, you’d have to be dead to sleep through it.

When you have a faulty smoke detector, sometimes you get a warning blare of your internal house fire alarm system. That’s what happened yesterday, late afternoon. I was getting out of the shower and thought I heard the alarm go off – but not even for a second.

I asked my younger son, Michael, if the alarm had gone off. He said it had and all he was doing was playing computer games.

A few months ago, this had happened, and it turned out we had another faulty smoke detector. We replaced that one, and replaced all of the batteries and thought we were set. After all, these smoke detectors are supposed to be good for 10 years, right?

We should’ve known better. This week, while I’m in Los Angeles, Sam is going to go find a smoke detector sale and buy up a bunch of new smoke detectors. We’ll have to mark our calendars to replace the new batch in five years. There’s no point in waiting until they turn into faulty smoke detectors – all I’ll get out of that is another bad’s night sleep.

Do you have any faulty smoke detector stories to share?

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3 Responses to Faulty Smoke Detectors – How to Get The Smoke Detector To Stop Beeping

  1. Chief Robin "Shadow" Nelson says:

    When first becoming a firefighter, to graduate I had to do a public service program. With the aid of my young daughter, who was 7 and used to roll house with us when she was 4.
    I decided on a project. Replace every battery and missing or broken smoke detectors in our village of 430 people. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but it was quite the undertaking.
    I’d inspect first, if necessary, we’d carry in a ladder, then she would hand me anthing necessary. Then while working, she would visit with the elders, or keep small children occupied and away from the ladder. I couldn’t have done it without her. Now 25 and a brilliant SSgt with the Air Guard.

    As fire fighters, my husband and I were always aware of the importance of ALL detectors, placement and batteries.

    I recently ran into a situation in my own home. A detector at the top of the ceiling started “chirping”
    realizing it was due for a battery change, I put it off. It meant hauling a ladder in and up the spiral staircase of our 3 story home. Since I just had had all new smoke and CO Detectors installed last month. The guys forgot about the one by the ceiling I can’t reach. (Recently divorced and disabled, braces ect.) Friends came over last week and replaced the battery for me. I didn’t inspect it as I should have. This morning, at 5am I woke to the blaring noise. It echoes quite nicely in the Great room, in fact you can hear it in the basement bedrooms. I went thru each room, feeling every wall plug in, as well as unplugging and shutting off breakers. I found nothing. But the blaring continued of and on. I finally grabbed a fan and set it up to blow past the detector. The only thing I could think to do. It’s managing to stop the blaring. (Trust me, I’m ready to take the longest heaviest item and knock the damn thing off the wall, I’m only 4’11” lol) if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone… so I guess my point is when changing your batteries, check for the life span. Stay safe this Holiday Season, especially those of you who have real trees for Christmas.

  2. kathleen says:

    After reading these articles and learning what I should have been doing I feel very lucky-I have been in my home for 15 years – brand new in 2001. I have replaced my batteries every year but this year after replacing the batteries the very next morning 2AM the blaring started. Checked all the outlets and inspected everywhere there could have been a fire, finding nothing I pulled the batteries from all detectors and flipped the circuit breaker to get it to stop. Today I did a few of the things that I found on the net, not really knowing whether they work or not; unclipped the hard wire and held the button down for 30 seconds reading that sometimes they hold codes? Reinstalled batteries, just sitting here waiting for the alarm to go off – but am shopping for new detectors. I guess 15 years is a bit much. I would never have known any of this had I not been on the net trying to find out why my detectors went off.

  3. Karen says:

    We have lived in our house since 1992. Our 2 smoke alarms are hard wired and have no batteries to replace.
    The (very) highest one goes off often when I use the broiler.
    Last night, about 3 am, it went off once. We woke up and wondered if it was our cell phone? It went off again, but not steady or with any regularity. We smelled no smoke and then it stopped.
    After doing some searches on the web, i had my husband take it off the wall and I’ll be buying 2 brand new smoke alarms. I never knew even hard wired ones wear out.

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