how to tell if smoke detector is dying

When you don’t know how to tell if smoke detector is dying the best place to learn everything about this would be in this post.

When the smoke detector is chirping every now and then or does not appear to be working at all, here we’ll describe the possibilities.

To know when a smoke detector is about to die you need to change the batteries regularly to avoid getting misled. In case the weird behavior or inactivity continues even with a fresh source of power, the smoke detector has to be replaced.

To understand the situation better, we need to learn more about the early signs.

Early Signs of A Dying Smoke Detector!

early signs smoke detector

To recognize whether your smoke detector is dying you’ll need to identify some of the early signs and straightforwardly replace the device.

1.   Turning OFF

When a smoke detector is turning off for no reason, it could be the battery or power fluctuations in the electrical installation of your home.

In case none of these possibilities apply, the turning off problem may be related to the smoke detector device.

A smoke detector that turns off is no good and should be replaced.

2.   TEST Button Is Not Working

To perform an alarm test, you need to hold the TEST or HUSH button for at least 5 seconds and the alarm should continue to sound until you release it.

test button not working

In case the battery has been replaced and you’re unable to perform a test or perhaps the noise is weak, the smoke detector is dying.

3.   The Device Is Too Old

When your smoke detector starts turning yellow, it’s time to twist the device until the unit comes off and take a look at the bottom.

Every smoke detector should have the released year printed down on the bottom panel.

Replace smoke detectors that have been assembled more than 10 years ago.

Note: The 10 years are considered in regard to when the device has been developed and not how long the unit has been used.

4.   False Alarms

a false alarms

When a smoke detector starts beeping all of the time or the device activates for no reason you shouldn’t rely on fire protection.

The smoke detectors are extremely sensitive to fire smoke particles and should not be easily activated by other fumes except when directly exposed.

Constant false alarms could mean that something is burning or that the detector is dying.

5.   LEDs Are OFF

On most of the smoke detectors, you will see a red and green light. When the LED lights are OFF, it’s clear that the device is not working.

However, other light patterns might indicate different device states so, let’s find out exactly what your smoke detector is telling you:

  • Blinking red light – the smoke detector is currently activated.
  • Red light flashes every 1 min – refreshes the operational status and it’s normal.
  • Solid green light – the smoke detector is receiving power.
  • Blinking green light – the battery is low.

That would leave us with only one possibility – No green light.

This is a prime indication that the AC line has been interrupted, therefore your smoke detector is not receiving power.

How To Tell If Smoke Detector Is Dying?

smoke detector dying

When you hear a chirping sound every now and then coming from your smoke detector that only means that the battery is low.

To understand whether the device is about to wear out and stop working, regardless of the battery, you need to use a different approach.

The average hardwired and wireless smoke detectors last up to 10 years!

The easiest way to check whether a smoke detector is dying would be to take a closer look at the device.

The smoke detectors have a LED power light, indicating that the device is receiving power.

In case the light is OFF, even with new batteries, your smoke detector is dead.

Smoke Detector Test

The best way to tell whether a smoke detector is working is by performing a test. On the device, you will be able to locate a TEST or HUSH button.

By holding the button for more than 5 seconds, the device should enter a test mode and start to alarm as in case of a fire.

When a smoke detector won’t sound the alarm even with a good battery, the device could be dead, hence, you’ll need to replace the entire unit.

Note: The smoke detector’s volume or sound pattern, cannot be changed.

How To Know If Smoke Detector Needs New Battery?

know when need new battery

There is an easy way to tell whether a smoke detector needs a new battery which applies even to devices that do not have any indication.

Since there are two general types of smoke detectors – hardwired and wireless, we’re going to review both.

1. Wireless Smoke Detector

The wireless “battery-dependent” smoke detectors will indicate whenever the battery is low by “beeping” every minute.

The indication noises would continue for weeks before the battery is completely dead. This is when your smoke detector will turn OFF.

Another way to test whether the battery needs a replacement is by pressing and holding the TEST button.

The alarm noise should be loud and piercing. In case the noise is weak or not there, the battery is low and you would need a new unit for your detector to operate normally.

2. Hardwired Smoke Detector

the hardwired smoke detector

The wired smoke detectors are not dependent on the battery since they are connected to the electrical system of the building.

However, the battery comes into use whenever the power is out, so the device can continue a normal operation.

In that set of thoughts, to know whether a hardwired smoke detector needs a new battery you need to replicate a power outage.

You can flip the circuit breaker and check whether the device would start chirping every 60 seconds. This is the prime indication of a low battery.

Tip: The smoke detector battery should be replaced every 6 months.

How To Tell Which Smoke Detector Battery Is Low?

tell smoke detector battery low

When you hear a “chirp” every minute but you’re not able to tell from which smoke detector the sound is coming from, there is an easy way to find the one.

You’ll need to spare a minute staying under each smoke detector that you’re suspecting!

This would be the only way to localize which smoke detector is the one that’s beeping.

The next step would be to grab the detector and twist the device to the left. When the device comes down you’ll need to look at the back.

Every smoke detector has the release year printed on the back.

  • In case the smoke detector is released more than 10 years ago, you need to replace the entire device, even if it’s working.
  • When 10 years have not passed yet, you only need to replace the battery and perform a test alarm to confirm that everything is intact.

Some smoke detectors may not last as long as 10 years.

This is why next we are about to learn how to predict whether a smoke detector is about to die and what are the early signs.

Quick Recap:

Hence, to find out when a smoke detector is about to die, you only need to use a new battery and hold the TEST/HUSH button to perform a test alarm. When the noise is loud and piercing your smoke detector is working properly.

Last Thoughts:

Now that you know how to tell if smoke detector is dying, you shouldn’t be worried any longer.

You will now be able to tell when a smoke detector only needs batteries and when the device should be entirely replaced for safety.

We hope that this post was helpful and that you’ve learned how to recognize faulty smoke detectors.

For more relevant content, make sure to check our blog!

Nicole B