smoke alarmSmoke alarms are a critical part of a fire safety plan for a home and can alert you quickly of a potential fire hazard or risk. A false alarm however can be annoying, especially with the high-pitch chirp going on and on. What causes a faulty smoke alarm? Let’s take a look at the top reasons your smoke alarm goes off randomly as well as proper placement for smoke alarms.

Faulty Smoke Alarm Culprits

Is that ‘chirp, chirp, chirp’ noise driving you crazy? Here are the top 10 reasons your smoke alarm may be sounding off when there isn’t a fire risk:

  • Low Battery: This is the most common reason a smoke alarm chirps without an active fire. It’s good practice to replace the batteries at least twice a year.
  • Battery Terminal is Obstructed: In order for the smoke alarm to work properly, the battery terminal node has to be free from obstructions. If your detector is new, be sure the pull tab is removed before installation.
  • Burnt Cooking: Another common reason for a smoke alarm to go off randomly is burnt food. While there may not be an active fire, the odor and smoke from things like burnt toast and burnt popcorn can trigger the smoke alarm.
  • Fireplace: Fireplaces are a great way to heat a home in the chilly months and can provide a cozy atmosphere. When smoke particles do not escape completely through the chimney, though, it can create enough smoke in the house to set off the smoke alarm.
  • High Humidity: Did you know that high humidity is also another way your smoke detector can be triggered? If there is a lot of water in the air, the water particles may be enough to sound the alarm. Smoke detectors cannot differentiate smoke particles from water particles.
  • Excess Dust or Dirt: Dust and dirt may set off your smoke alarms, especially if there is an excess due to remodeling or other projects. Make sure your smoke alarm is clean and use a vacuum attachment or electronic aerosol cleaner to remove dust particles.
  • Bugs and Pests: Bugs love to hide inside smoke detectors! Like dust and dirt, they can cause the smoke alarm to go off randomly. When you change the batteries on your smoke alarm, also take time to clean it out.
  • Chemicals: Harsh chemicals are another cause of smoke detector false alarms. Ventilate areas where you are using paint or other materials with a harsh chemical smell to avoid setting off the smoke alarm.
  • Unattended Candles: Even though most commercially-made candles don’t give off enough smoke to trigger a smoke alarm, it can happen occasionally especially if the candle is placed directly below the smoke detector. If your smoke alarm starts to go off and you have a lit candle, move it to another area or extinguish it.
  • End of Smoke Alarm Life: The average smoke alarm lasts between 8-10 years. If your smoke detector is chirping and is more than 7 years old, it may be at the end of its life. Unsure how old your detector is? Check the back of it and look for a date from the manufacturer.

Proper Smoke Alarm Placement

Installing smoke alarms correctly and making sure they are working properly can be a literal lifesaver in the event of a fire. The sooner you are made aware of a fire, the easier it will be to leave safely and call the fire department for help.

Here are recommendations for smoke detector placement in your home:

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom and outside sleeping areas
  • At least one smoke alarm should be on every floor of the house, including the basement
  • Smoke alarms in the basement should be installed on the ceiling just at the bottom of the stairs
  • One smoke alarm should be placed approximately 10 feet from any cooking appliance.
  • Where possible, mount smoke alarms on ceilings (remember – smoke rises). In spaces where ceiling mount is not an option, mount the smoke alarm on the wall no greater than 12 inches away from the ceiling.
  • Do not paint or tamper with smoke alarms.
  • Don’t install smoke detectors near windows, doors, or anywhere where a breeze or draft could interfere with its operation.

Fire and Smoke Damage Restoration Experts

While we hope you don’t need our services, Reynolds Restoration Services is here to help in case of a fire. Our team of fire and smoke remediation and restoration experts has been helping homeowners restore their property after a fire. We understand how devastating a home fire can be and our team of emergency restoration specialists is ready to take the stress off of you.

With offices in Harrisburg, Pa., Philadelphia, Pa., and the Baltimore/DC metro region, our emergency response time is quick. We are on-call 24/7 for emergency service for fire damage restoration, storm damage response, disaster restoration services, mold remediation, flood and water damage, and more. Let us help you restore your home or business to its pre-loss condition. Call 1.888.277.8280 for emergency services.

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