As a Firefighter I continually respond to calls where there is no immediate emergency just chirping smoke alarms. I am also asked regularly by friends, “Why is my smoke alarm chirping?” So with all these questions about beeping smoke alarms I decided to write a short blog to answer these questions.
Next time your smoke alarm is beeping remember these easy steps. 1st, you need to determine how often your smoke alarm is beeping.
Is it beeping once every couple of minutes?
Is it beeping 3 times followed by a short pause repeated?
Is it beeping 4 times followed by a short pause repeated?
If your smoke alarm is beeping just once every couple of minutes this usually means a low battery. Even if your smoke alarms are hardwired they still have batteries. Find the smoke alarm that is beeping and put a new battery in it. If they are all going off you can find the smoke alarm that first tripped by looking at your smoke alarms. The smoke alarm that is flashing RED is the smoke alarm that initiated the alarm. If your smoke alarm is beeping 3 times in a row followed by a short pause repeated, this means there could be smoke in the house. Remember that just because your smoke alarm is beeping 3 times in a row doesn’t mean there is necessarily smoke in your house. I have seen smoke alarms go off because of dust, cobwebs, and even steam from a shower.
If your smoke alarm is beeping 4 times in a row followed by a pause repeated, this means there could be CO in the house. If this is the case I strongly recommend you call 911 and wait outside. There is no way for you to determine if there is CO in your house or if it’s a false alarm. The firefighter department will have special gas detectors to determine if you have CO or not. Please note some might tell you to open all your windows and doors and wait for the fire department. The problem with doing this is you have now just vented your house and the fire department wont find the CO if you really have some.
2nd, after you have determined how often your smoke alarm is beeping you should take the following steps. If it’s just the single beep every couple of minutes change the battery. If this still doesn’t fix it change the battery in all of them. If this still doesn’t fix it remove the smoke alarm that is beeping and throw it away. Smoke alarms go bad continually! My experience is smoke alarms are only good for about 3 to 5 years.
If your smoke alarm is beeping 3 times in a row start by checking for smoke in the house. Treat it like a real emergency until you know other wise. Check the stove, many times people forget they left their stove on. Next check all the bedrooms, storage rooms, laundry room and any other possible room. If you can not see our smell any smoke it’s probably a false detector. If you see or smell any smoke at all immediately leave the home and call 911! If you determine there is no smoke try removing the triggered smoke alarm. You will know it’s the triggered smoke alarm because it will be blinking red. Typically all your smoke alarms are interconnected, so it one goes off they will all go off. This is why you need to find the triggered smoke alarm and remove it. Remove the smoke alarm and try blowing it out, take it out side for fresh air. Maybe dust or spiders got inside and made it trip. After you blow it out put it back up. If this does not fix the problem replace it with a new one.
If your smoke alarm is beeping 4 times in a row repeated this is CO. CO is dangerous because it’s odorless and colorless. You have no idea if it’s a false alarm or a real alarm. The best practice is to call 911 and left the experts look at it. They will typically have additional detectors to determine if there is really CO. You should be aware of what appliances do produce CO. Any of your gas appliances can produce CO gas stoves, gas dryers, furnace, water heaters, fire places. You can prevent CO problems by regular maintenance on these appliances. Also, never let your car idle in your garage, this will most likely force CO into the house.
And remember don’t just rip down a smoke alarm because it’s beeping. Smoke alarms save lives and are required by code!
As a career firefighter I respond to fire alarm calls every week. The #1 cause of house fires is found in the kitchen. Every 4.5 minutes a house catches fire from people leaving food cooking on the stove. After responding to dozens and dozens of kitchen fires I developed FireAvert. FireAvert plugs in the back of your stove, it will automatically turn off your stove when it hears your smoke alarm from the burnt food. Without FireAvert the burned food will quickly turn into a fully involved house fire. FireAvert is the most effective way of preventing a house fire. On average we receive 3 testimonials a month from customers reporting FireAvert stopped a fire. I strongly recommend every family protect their home and family with a FireAvert. You can order yours here on this website. If you have any questions please contact me.
By installing a Fire Avert in your home you can make your smoke alarms not just warn you of a problem but they can prevent a fire. My smoke alarm is beeping? You now know what to do!