Smoke Detector Beeps
Smoke detectors are a critical addition to every household. These fixtures work as early warning devices and could make a huge difference between life and death. In just the United States alone, about 2,000 people get their properties destroyed by household fires every year–and that is just a figure from one small part of the world.
If there’s one thing you should know about fires, it’s that the flames are just one part of the problem. Smoke and deadly gases also spread fast during fires, two factors that can be just as lethal as suffering from burns. In fact, one of the main reasons why so many victims perish in a household fire is because of the inhalation of toxic gases and suffocation from smoke. The situation gets even more grave when the accident happens at night when most people are asleep and therefore unaware of what’s happening around them. By the time the inhabitants finally realize what’s happening, they have already either been affected by the gases with little time to escape.
These situations are exactly what smoke alarms alleviate. Think of them as 24/7 sentinels of your property. The way they work is they create a noise–usually chirping or beeping sounds–when a certain amount of smoke enters their sensing chamber. These nifty tools alert the homeowner that something is amiss and give them ample time to either evacuate or put out the source of fire before it gets worse.
Smoke Detector Types:
There are basically two smoke detector types you can choose from. Each type can use a different number of sensors and have different factors that trigger their beeping. The first type, the ionization smoke detector, uses a chamber composed of a pair of plates that generates a continuous flow of electric current. The chirping of this type of smoke alarm is triggered when smoke particles enter this chamber and disturb the usual flow of the current. Ionization alarms work faster on fires that have smaller combustion particles.
The other type of smoke detector is photoelectric alarms. From its name, this type of smoke alarm uses a photocell receptor and a light beam. The beeping is triggered whenever there is a change in the light in between the receptor and the light. Unlike the ionized alarms, this detector reacts to fires that have larger combustion particles which are, most of the time, caused by smoldering flames.
Smoke alarm installation:
In terms of proper placing, smoke alarms should be mounted high on ceilings. If you want them installed on walls, make sure that they are not more than 12 inches away from the ceiling. If you have pitched ceilings, on the other hand, it is recommended to have the alarm installed within three feet of its peak.
Last but not the least, spare your fire alarms from DIY decorations (paint and stickers, for example). Some smoke detectors can have sensitive triggers and adding furnishings to it can cause it to malfunction.
The deal about smoke detectors: Should I be worried about that extra chirping?
Technically, speaking, the definite answer to this should be a big, fat yes. A smoke detector chirping means there is fire, but what if there isn’t and it’s still making a fuss?
There are instances when smoke detectors get faulty due to causes like errors in its processors and battery problems. Whatever its problem may be, it is very important to have it fixed as soon as possible to prevent false alarms. Below are just some of the most common causes behind smoke detector beeping errors PLUS how to fix them.
Do you notice your smoke detector chirping at a set time, say a certain hour in the morning or evening? Does the fire alarm go off whenever you turn on certain appliances in your home? These patterns may indicate an electrical problem with your smoke alarm, especially when it is connected to a circuit where another device is also connected. If it happens on a regular timeframe, it might also be caused by power surges. Try plugging your smoke detector to a different socket. Even better, dedicate a solo socket for it just to be sure. If your device is hardwired, however, then it’s suggested that you ask the help of an electrician to see what the problem is.
The environment, most specifically the place where your smoke detector is located, can also cause it to malfunction. Condensation caused by humidity or sudden and extreme changes in temperature can trigger it to beep for example, as well as too much airflow. In this case, it is better to check the location of your alarm. For example, having your smoke detector placed on a ceiling below an insulated electrical box can be the cause of the problem. Even being within three feet of a ceiling fan or open window can be the culprit behind the faulty chirping. To be sure, check the manual of your smoke detector to see the perfect location to install them.
Remember how photoelectric smoke alarms work? Sometimes, the chirping is triggered whenever there is something that gets in the way of the light chamber. Think: dust, ash, or pollen. The placing of your smoke alarm plays a vital role in this problem again. Like what has been discussed above, it is recommended to have it installed far from a place where such elements usually circulate and gather, like open windows. Moreover, it’s also important to make it a habit to clean your fire alarm. This is usually very simple to do–all you need to do is carefully remove your smoke detector from its mounting bracket and wipe its inside and outside with a damp cloth. Make sure that it is dry before re-installing it again.
Batteries gone bad are one of the most common things that cause smoke alarm beeping. Sometimes the batteries have simply expired (make sure to take note of its expiration date) while in other situations they have not simply been properly installed. Check the type of battery for your smoke alarm before getting it installed and make sure that is snapped on properly on the device. In some situations, smoke detector beeps can simply be fixed by removing and re-attaching the battery again. Also, ensure that the cover for the battery slot is fixed properly and that the battery wires are in good condition.
Do take note that some smoke alarms come with error conditions, meaning a faulty battery can be the cause behind the beeps. In such cases, make sure to reset your smoke detector after replacing its batteries. This can be easily done by either resetting (usually long pressing a button) or reconnecting the power of your fire alarm. If your smoke alarm is hardwired, also consider resetting it using the electrical panel. Just simply turn off the central alarm button, wait a few minutes, and turn it back on.
Just to be sure though, regularly check your smoke alarms to see if everything is a miss. It is recommended to check your batteries ONCE a month. Chirping or no chirping, regular checkups like this are necessary just to make sure that your alarm has not died on you yet.
But what if your smoke detector keeps on beeping even with new batteries? In this case, it can either be because your “new” set of batteries are not exactly new (note that batteries are rendered ineffective when stored in cold areas) or there is a faulty button at work. Check if your smoke alarm’s silence push button has been pressed by accident just to be sure.
Know your beeps: A guide on the different kinds of smoke alarm beeping and how to deal
The nature of smoke detector chirping can say a lot about the cause of the problem. Does it follow a pattern? How loud are the beeps? Familiarizing yourself with them can make your troubleshooting easier. Below are some of the most common types of beeping and the probable causes behind them.
When Should I Replace My
So you’ve tried every troubleshooting solution with no success. It might be high time to consider replacing your smoke alarm. In case you don’t know, it is recommended for smoke detectors to be changed every ten years–though you should also note the expiration date of your device as well. Combination (smoke alarms that are a mix of the ionization and photoelectric types) and carbon monoxide smoke detectors are best replaced every seven years or so.
Do remember though that consistent and annoying chirping isn’t the only reason to consider changing your alarm. Yes, beeps can indicate that you need to do something, but other times, your fire alarm can simply die on you–silently. Again, this is the reason why you should make it a habit to regularly check your alarms every month even without the incessant beeping. Use the test button to see if your alarm’s warning sound has not died or is still in the proper volume when you do your checkups.
Some Important Tips
It is recommended that you interconnect all your smoke alarms during installation. This way, every unit in your home will get off even if only one of it has been triggered. According to a survey by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), interconnected alarms alerted 26 percent of the homeowners for more than half of the time. This is compared to the mere 15 percent alert rate provided by smoke alarms installed on all floors.
Following this logic, it makes it a smarter choice to get your alarms from a single manufacturer only–possibly in the same model–to make sure that they are compatible. Also make sure to keep the user manual of your smoke detector since this is where you can easily check details like manufacturing expiration dates, battery types, and reset instructions.
Having a smoke alarm installed is only the first step in fire prevention. Part of being vigilant is making sure that your fire alarms are properly and regularly maintained and learning how to troubleshoot it. These might be small, forgettable tasks for a homeowner, but making them a habit will not only help in saving your home but your life as well.