Smoke alarms can be sensitive for a variety of reasons. Check out our smoke alarm troubleshooting tips for an urgent solve.
Does your smoke alarm beep regularly or go off when there’s no fire?
There’s nothing more annoying than a smoke alarm chirping intermittently or setting off at every hint of steam or burning toast. It’s not a good idea to disconnect or interfere with smoke alarms, even when they won’t stop beeping, because they need to function in an emergency. Instead of resorting to desperate measures, use these tips to troubleshoot next time your alarm is going off for no apparent reason.
Tip 1. Keep smoke alarms clean
Dirt and insects are a very common reason for smoke detectors going off inappropriately. Physical obstructions can interact with the sensor and cause your smoke alarm to activate. For a quick solution, carefully dust and vacuum your smoke alarm to remove dirt. You can also spray insect repellent around the alarm (avoid spraying the alarm directly!) to deter bugs.
To maintain optimal functioning, smoke alarms should undergo regular services that include a thorough clean.
Tip 2. Ventilate for steam and fumes
Steam and cooking fumes can cause smoke alarms to go off. Shut bathroom and laundry doors to contain steam, use the exhaust fan when cooking and open up doors and windows for ventilation. If you’re using the toaster or another portable appliance, point them away from the smoke detector if possible.
Photoelectric smoke alarms are less sensitive to steam while still detecting real fire events. A professional technician will know how to place smoke detectors to keep them away from steam and fumes while still adhering to legislative requirements.
Tip 3. Manage humidity
In high humidity, condensation can cause water vapours to form and cause the smoke to react as it would to smoke vapour. If you suspect this is happening you can dry the smoke alarm yourself by gently blowing a hair dryer through it to evaporate moisture.
Tip 4. Rapid air movement
Another common culprit is rapid air movement created by fans or fan heaters, so point portable fans, heaters, radiators and air conditiong ducts away from smoke alarms. When installed, smoke alarms should also be placed away from air conditioning ducts.
Tip 5. Battery and power issues
Power surges can cause hardwired smoke alarms to beep. It should resolve itself after the power issue has passed, but if not you can try resetting the power by flipping it off and on again at your circuit box.
In some areas of QLD and NSW, electricity suppliers inject an off-peak signal onto the network (a ‘ripple’) which can set off smoke alarms. If your smoke alarm beeps at the same time each day it could be this.
A beeping alarm can signal a low battery. In keeping with legal requirements, smoke alarms should be regularly serviced to ensure batteries are kept fresh. In some Australian states it’s now a requirement that alarms are fitted with 10-year lithium batteries or hardwired into the mains power supply, so properly fitted alarms shouldn’t have battery issues. If the battery is faulty at a Detector Inspector enrolled property, you can request an urgent service to get it fixed.
Is your smoke alarm still going off?
If your property is enrolled in Detector Inspector's smoke alarm safety service, use our urgent jobs framework to assess the issue and easily log an urgent service request online. Don’t ignore a noisy alarm—when it comes to fire safety, you’re better safe than sorry!
If you're a tenant and not sure about your service provider, contact your property manager to find out what type of smoke alarm safety program they have in place and what to do in case of an urgent issue.