A chirping smoke detector is an annoyance at best – but at worst, it’s a hazard. In the dead of night, there’s nothing more tempting than to simply remove the batteries and drift back to sleep, but a smoke detector is the last thing you should mess with.

Many smoke detectors are connected to a spider web-like system that runs through the whole house and includes a heat sensor, carbon monoxide detector, and variety of other alarms. If one detector fails, then it cannot communicate with the rest of the system. For example, if a fire starts in the attic of your home and that detector is broken, you won’t know about the fire until it’s sensed by another alarm. And at that point, it’s usually too late.

About two-thirds of fire-related deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms, according to the National Fire Protection Agency. Homeowners should err on the side of caution and delve into the potential reasons for a chirping smoke alarm.
There are three common causes of a chirping smoke detector:

  • Low or dead battery. This is likely the most common cause of a chirping smoke detector, and thankfully it’s an easy fix. Most smoke detectors take either 9 volt or 10-year lithium batteries. Nine-volt batteries should be replaced about every year, but lithium batteries shouldn’t be replaced. Instead, you’ll have to replace the entire smoke detector.
  • Old smoke detector. The average smoke detector has a lifespan of about 8 to 10 years. Most smoke alarm companies design their devices to turn yellow or off-white when they’ve reached the end of life. Discoloration is a sure sign that the detector needs to be replaced.
  • Loose connection. Sometimes, a loose electrical connection causes smoke detectors to chirp. This can be the result of general wear and tear or perhaps faulty electrical work. When this is the case, it’s best to call an electrician to remedy the issue.

Most of these situations can be prevented with regular check-up and maintenance. Our electrical service club membership includes a free annual inspection, where a licensed electrician will check your entire home for issues.

Not all smoke detectors are the same – there are differences in quality and longevity. At HomeWiz, our experienced electricians can help you make the right choice for a smoke detector. Whether you’re just looking to band-aid a situation to pass an inspection or sell your home, or you want long-term security for your family, we can give you guidance to help make the right decision.