Why Is My Smoke Detector Chirping?



Why Is My Smoke Detector Chirping, and How Do I Make It Stop?

If you have a chirping smoke detector, it is most likely driving you up the wall. The good news: Now that you’re up the wall, you’re closer to the smoke detector, and it’s easier to change the battery, which is probably why the thing’s chirping in the first place! (Because the battery’s dying.)

However, there are a couple of scenarios in which the chirping is caused not by a battery that’s on the way out, but by a smoke detector that’s malfunctioning despite getting enough juice.

Changing a smoke detector battery is a pretty straightforward affair. But if the battery’s still powering the unit, you’ll need to take a few more steps to determine the cause of that blasted chirp-chirp-chirping!

Here’s what to do when your smoke detector is keeping you up at night or chirping over important dialogue in your latest Netflix binge-watching session.

Change the Battery

Find a ladder and a buddy to keep the ladder steady, especially if your ceilings are particularly high.

Depending on your smoke detector model, you either need to remove the entire unit or simply open the door on the detector to access your battery.

Most detectors use a 9-volt battery. Remove the battery, and hold the reset/hush button to reset the detector, if applicable. Next, replace the old battery and press the “test” button on your detector.

If your smoke alarm was chirping because of a low battery, the alarm should make a brief sound, letting you know the new battery is good to go, and you don’t need to take any further steps. If it does not sound, try a different battery. In cases where a second new battery doesn’t work, and you have a fairly new model of a smoke detector, you may need to reset the unit or consider replacing it.

I’ve Replaced The Battery But It’s Still Chirping!

Sometimes after you’ve changed the battery, the smoke detector may not register the new battery. To fix this, you’ll need to completely reset the smoke alarm. To do so, head to the circuit breaker and turn off the power in the room where the affected smoke detector is located. Next, head back to the room with the problematic smoke alarm. Unhook the detector from its bracket and unplug its power supply.

Remove the battery and press down and hold the test button for approximately 20 seconds. Put the new battery back into the smoke detector, plug it in, and reattach the smoke detector to its bracket. Turn the power back on from the circuit breaker.

The alarm should chirp once more, but the repeated beeping shouldn’t.

Aaargh! When Nothing Seems To Work …

What if your smoke alarm continues to chirp after you’ve tried each of the potential solutions outlined above? You may need a new smoke detector. Furthermore, if your smoke detector is more than 10 years old, it’s definitely a good idea to get a new one, regardless of how well it functions.

If you’re a renter, you should ask your landlord to replace your aged smoke alarm with a new one. Conscientious — and lawful! — landlords should be checking your smoke alarms for you at least once a year, if not more.

Smoke alarms in Portland, for example, must be placed “in each sleeping room or area, in the immediate vicinity of the sleeping rooms and on each additional story of the dwelling, including basements and attics with habitable space.” Furthermore, “Oregon requires smoke alarms and (where appropriate) carbon monoxide alarms in rental units. There must be a carbon monoxide detector within each bedroom, or within 15 feet of each bedroom door if there is a carbon monoxide source.”

In Washington, “It is the responsibility of the owner of each existing building, mobile home or factory-built housing to install smoke detection devices within each dwelling unit occupied by persons other than the owner.” It’s also the owner’s responsibility “to inspect and test all smoke detection devices at the time of vacancy and make the necessary repairs or replacements to ensure that the smoke detection devices are operational prior to re-occupancy, and to instruct the occupants of the purpose, operation and maintenance of the smoke detection device(s).”


Remember: As stated above, smoke alarms don’t just detect smoke. They can also alert you to the presence of dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. So it’s critical to keep your smoke alarm in tip-top shape, paying attention to its beeping or chirping. As annoying as it may be, that chirping noise may ultimately help protect your life some day.

If you need help installing your smoke detector, or have questions about your home smoke alarm system, call Prairie Electric today.