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JN Electrical Temperature Control, Inc Blog

Troubleshooting Your Broken Smoke Detector


A broken smoke detector, just like a broken alarm of any kind, isn’t any worth to you. If you’ve got a busted smoke detector, you can always call our team for smoke detector repair or a full replacement (often the better option if you’ve got a detector more than 10 years old). However, in some cases you can troubleshoot your faulty smoke detector and solve the problem yourself. 

We’re going to go into some of the steps you can take to see if there’s a simple answer to your faulty smoke detector.

Alert Sounds

Smoke detectors are designed to provide alert sounds when something is wrong. Otherwise most people would never know the detector isn’t working. When your smoke detector starts to routinely emit a “chirp” sound, it’s telling you something is wrong and it needs attention. Don’t ignore the sound or just open up the detector to dismantle it.

A single “chirp” that sounds every 30 to 60 seconds usually means the batteries (if the detector uses them) are dying and need to be replaced. If the chirping continues after replacing the batteries, the situation is more serious and the detector either needs a major repair or a full replacement.

We strongly recommend you test all the smoke detectors in your house every six months in case those alert sounds aren’t working. You just hit the “TEST” button and wait to hear a steady beep. 

The Alarm Goes Off When There’s No Fire

When your fire alarm starts to blare steadily, you’ll know what it’s trying to tell you: it’s detected smoke and there may be a fire in the house. 

What if it’s a false alarm? First, we don’t recommend you hang around your house until you find out. If you can also smell smoke, get out of the house right away and call emergency services. Don’t return until everything is clear.

If it turns out that there was no fire, and the fire alarm continues to go off for no reason, there are several possibilities.

First, the smoke detector might be dirty. When dirt and dust infiltrate a smoke alarm, they can block the sensor that’s used to detect smoke. Blocking the detector is what causes the alarm to go off, so dust, dirt, and even insects can trigger it. Clean off the detector with a vacuum and a rag to see if this fixes the problem.

Second, steam may trigger the detector. This can occur if the detector is located too close to a bathroom or other room that produces large amounts of steam. Not all types of detectors can be tricked by steam, but the ones that use photoelectric detection are susceptible to this. These smoke detectors work by detecting light that’s reflected off particles from a light beam inside the detector. If particles like smoke or steam obscure the light beam, it will trigger the alarm.

Repairing and Replacing

If you still have a malfunctioning detector—one that’s beeping a warning at you or which keeps going off—then call for our technicians to investigate it and see if it needs repairs or if it’s time to replace it. 

JN Electrical Temperature Control, Inc works hard to ensure customer satisfaction with custom comfort solutions. Schedule service for your AC today.

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