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Posted on: December 20, 2020

One of the most important safety tools in your home are smoke detectors and smoke/CO2 detectors. You should have a smoke detector inside every bedroom, in hallways outside of sleeping areas, in kitchens, in living rooms and on every level in your home, including the basement. While smoke and CO2 detectors are an excellent way to keep us safe, occasionally they may set off a false alarm. 

If your smoke detector or smoke/CO2 combo detector goes off without any visible danger, try to diagnose the problem before you call an electrician. Continue reading for how to self-diagnose a false alarm.

False Smoke/CO2 Detector Alarm

Before you start to diagnose a false alarm, be sure that there are no dangers of a fire or carbon monoxide in your home. Once you have determined that you are safe, there are a few steps to diagnosing a false smoke or smoke/CO2 detector alarm. Take a look:

  1. Determine what kind of smoke detector you have

    If you are unsure as to what kind of smoke detector you have installed, there are a few ways to find out. There are two main types of smoke/CO2 detector. It is possible that you may even have both types. To determine what kind you have, first twist the smoke detector counter-clockwise while simultaneously pushing up. You should feel the alarm disconnect from the ceiling. If the alarm has a wire connected to it, then it is hardwired. If there is no wire, then it is interconnected.

  2. Determine which smoke detector set off the alarm

    Now that you know what kind of smoke detector you have, you should determine which smoke detector set off the alarm. If the detector is no longer beeping, you can also tell which one it was through the light signal. If the light is green, then the detector is working and on standby. If the light is blinking red, then this is the detector that set off the alarm.

  3. Reset the alarm

    Once you have found the detector that set off the alarm, you should reset it. You can do this by pushing and holding the button in the middle of the alarm. This usually only works for a short period of time until you can find and fix the issue that caused the alarm to go off in the first place.

  4. Complete smoke detector maintenance

    Now that you have reset the alarm, you can complete some easy maintenance to keep your detector from setting false alarms in the future. All you have to do is grab a microfiber cloth or a can of compressed air and gently remove any dust and debris from inside the unit. This kind of maintenance should be done every once in a while to keep your smoke/CO2 detectors in good shape.

  5. Check to see if smoke detector is still going off

    Put the smoke detector back into place and check the light to see if it is still going off. If it is, then you need to disconnect the unit and replace the battery.

There are two types of disconnections, sealed and non-sealed. For a sealed battery detector, look on the back of the unit for a plastic tab near the battery. Break the tab to disable the unit and replace the batteries. For a non-sealed detector, there should be an “on” and “off” tab that you use a screwdriver to switch. Replace the batteries once you have done this. 

Possible Causes of a False Smoke Detector Alarm

The most common reason why your smoke/CO2 detector went off is that it needs a battery replacement. Many detectors will beep when they require a battery replacement. There are a few other reasons why your detector may have given a false alarm:

  • Power surge or power outage
  • Excess humidity
  • Dirt or debris

This is why it is so important to complete regular smoke detector maintenance. Cleaning your detector and replacing its battery will help to ensure that it doesn’t suddenly go off without explanation.

While it may be tempting to wait to replace the batteries in your smoke detector, this is extremely dangerous. Fires, and carbon monoxide leaks, are often unexpected and sudden. The safety of yourself, your home and those living with you depend on having a working smoke detector.

Reliable Electrician in Minneapolis, Minnesota 

Randy’s Electric in Minneapolis, Minnesota is here for all of your electrical needs. If you have been looking to replace your current smoke detectors or looking to upgrade to a smoke and CO2 combo detector, then our team can help. We are always happy to help our customers install new smoke detectors as your safety is our number one priority.

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