Tips for Addressing Smoke Detector Issues

Feb 6, 2024

The goal of a fire alarm is to ensure that everyone in a building knows to evacuate, hence why they are so loud. This feature, however, gets annoying quickly when a smoke detector is malfunctioning and there is no threat.

Here at AJ’s Electrical, we’ve seen plenty of smoke detector issues and based on our experience, we’ve offered some tips for addressing four common smoke detector issues.

 

Issue #1 – End of Life Warning

Smoke detectors have a fixed lifespan which is usually around ten years. It’s recommended to replace your smoke detector after this period – but, do you even know how old your smoke alarm is? 

Luckily, the vast majority of newer smoke alarms have an end-of-life warning built-in. While the sound your alarm will make is unique to each device, it’ll usually be just a beep similar to a low-battery warning. 

While the user manual will usually be able to help you understand how to distinguish between a low-battery sound and an end-of-life sound – you can also try to change the batteries regardless; if the smoke detector is still making a warning sound then it’s time to replace your device.

 

Issue #2 – Power Outages or Electrical Issues

This one only applies to you if you have a hard-wired smoke detector. While most hardwired smoke detectors have a backup battery installed to ensure they run smoothly during a power outage, it can be common for these devices to make a brief sound when power is interrupted and then restored. 

Tip: If your smoke detector is hardwired to an A/C system and you’ve been noticing issues such as beeping but haven’t been experiencing power outages, that might indicate some loose wiring. This is a good time to enlist the help of a professional electrician to dig deeper and find out the root of the cause as it can lead to bigger issues, and not just with your smoke detector.

 

Issue #3 – Dirt, Dust and Bugs

A common reason for smoke detector issues is dirt and dust. While no house is completely free of dirt and dust, keeping your home clean can help minimize this issue. While the outside of a smoke detector may look clean, you must remember that dust can easily build up inside of the cover. 

Pesky little bugs can also crawl into your smoke alarms. While the chambers that allow smoke in seem small to a human, they are the perfect size for bugs and insects. Once in your device, they can set off sensors or heat detectors. 

Thankfully, these issues are easily fixed. It’s as simple as removing the cover of your device and giving it a quick wipe. Any obstructions to the sensor can be cleaned by using a good vacuum cleaner hose with a soft bristle brush. Make sure to carefully screw everything back in place after the cleaning.

It’s recommended to clean your smoke detector inside and out twice a year.

 

Issue # 4 – Water, Humidity or Steam

It is important to note that water vapour tends to mimic the effect of smoke, which will result in some smoke alarms going off. Most smoke detectors might also react to extreme moisture and heat as they can be present in fires – this does not mean that your smoke alarm is defective. Excessive water exposure can lead to corrosion of the alarm and damage the electrical wiring, triggering malfunctions. 

It’s important to remember that your smoke detector can be at risk for water damage if you have a leak in your roof. This causes water to accumulate on the drywall of your ceiling where the device is. 

Once there is water damage, the most likely option for you is to replace the device.

 

If you’re having issues with your smoke detector going off constantly and you don’t know how to resolve them, then let us help you. With over 60 years of combined experience in the trade, we’re sure to help you solve your problem at an affordable price.

Contact us today to get your smoke detector issues addressed.  

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