There’s no fire. So why does my smoke alarm keep going off?


We’ve all been there. We’re minding our own business in our home when the smoke alarm starts blaring through the house! It’s an irritating sound that almost everyone can identify, and it almost always evokes a sudden feeling of panic. Is there a fire? Or was it a false alarm? Both situations are disruptive, and neither situation is pleasant. Needless to say, cutting down on the frequency your smoke detector sounds is a good idea for both your safety and peace of mind.

It goes without say that fire safety is your best bet for preventing your home’s smoke alarms from going off, but what about the times when a false alarm is triggered? It can be frustrating and anxiety-inducing not understanding why your alarm is sounding. The good news is that Spring is the best time of year for home maintenance, and making sure your smoke detectors are in tip-top condition is a great place to start! Read below for some of the more common reasons why your smoke detector could be triggering a false alarm.


8 Reasons Why Your Smoke Detectors Alarm Might be Triggered


1. The batteries need to be changed.

You should be changing the batteries in every smoke detector in your house once every year. If your smoke alarm is chirping, beeping, or going off at irregular times, it may need new batteries.
Choose a day that is easy to remember, or set a yearly reminder on your phone or digital device to replace the batteries for every smoke detector in your home. Also during this time, use canned air to blow dust and debris out of each area in the unit.

2. The smoke detector is old or needs to be replaced.

One of the most common reasons why a smoke alarm will sound unexpectedly is that the alarm itself is old. The lifespan of a smoke detector is about 10 years. Even if you keep up on yearly battery changes throughout that time, your smoke alarm may need to be replaced around the 10-year mark. One trick to remembering this is to make a habit of replacing all the smoke alarms in your home with new ones each time you have a birthday ending in 0 (40, 50, 60 and so on).

3. High Humidity.

humidifier unit in Colorado Springs home

Though high humidity isn’t a common weather issue in Colorado, humidity inside the home can cause smoke alarms to sound or even to stop working altogether. If you use a humidifier unit in your home, make sure it is not placed directly underneath a smoke detector.  It’s also important to open a window or use an overhead fan after showering, doing dishes or running a dishwasher to prevent false alarms.
Tip: If your smoke detector has had repeated issues with going off due to humidity, it may be time to swap out the alarm. Repeated exposure to high humidity can cause irreversible damage to the unit.

4. The area where the smoke detector is placed.

Do you have one smoke detector that seems to go off more than others in your home? Is it possibly too close to your kitchen stove? Is it right outside your bathroom? Smoke alarms should be installed inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Having a smoke alarm in or directly outside your kitchen or bathroom may not be necessary unless other conditions apply.

5. Bugs, dirt, and dust.

Have you ever replaced a lightbulb and found dust and bugs living inside your light fixtures? Yuck, right? The same thing can happen inside your smoke detector as well, and all that uninvited crud can cause it to trigger a false alarm. Use a duster or canned air to clean removable parts regularly as well as during your yearly battery swap.

6. Aerosols or other sprays.

This is another reason why it’s important to use an overhead fan or window in your bathroom and kitchen. Aerosols and other sprays, especially those containing chemicals, are a common cause of false alarms. Bug spray, hair spray, air freshener, and even vaporizer pens are common culprits. Keep these sprays away from smoke detectors to avoid false alarms.

stove with fire in Denver home

7. Smoke, cooking, etc.

This one may seem obvious, but it’s important to note that smoke detectors are triggered by well… smoke! Smoke detectors that are kept close to kitchens will often trigger the alarm to sound due to cooking, but this shouldn’t be thought of as a “false alarm”. If your smoke alarm goes off regularly when you’re cooking or smoking, it probably means the area isn’t properly ventilated. Use an overhead fan, open a window, or use an air purifier or floor fan in areas of your home where smoke is concentrated.

8. Fire?

Don’t immediately disregard your smoke detector just because you don’t smell or see fire or smoke right away. It’s possible your alarm knows something you don’t! Check your home thoroughly for signs of smoke or fire whenever your smoke alarm sounds. If you’re unsure or you suspect there may be an issue you can’t identify, call your local fire department.


Handyman Hub can help!


If you need help swapping out or deciding where to place smoke detectors in your home, contact Handyman Hub. Our home improvement experts can help install or replace smoke alarm units for a safer, more comfortable home. 

Contact Handyman Hub to hire a home improvement contractor in the Denver, Boulder, Westminster, Colorado Springs and Fort Collins areas. We also provide home repair services in San Antonio, TX and Salt Lake City Utah. Call today!