How to Change Your Smoke Detector Battery

You’re snug in bed half asleep, drifting between sweet dreams and reality. This is usually when disaster strikes – or in this case, chirps. When a smoke detector demands new batteries in the middle of the night, what happens next isn’t unlike the five stages of grief.

  1. Denial: This can’t be happening right now. Maybe it’ll stop on its own.
  2. Anger: Where are the batteries? How am I supposed to reach the alarm? Which detector is it? This one? That one? How can you tell?
  3. Bargaining: Maybe I can sleep through it. Maybe I can finally use my old baseball bat.
  4. Depression: Why me? Why tonight? I’ll never sleep again.
  5. Acceptance: This is my life now.

Sound familiar?

You might have had an experience that was slightly less dramatic, and that’s fine. Everyone grieves in their own way, but the takeaway is making sure it doesn’t happen again.

Beat your smoke detectors to the punch (or at least know how to end the chirping quickly) with the information in this article.

How do you know if your smoke detector needs a new battery?

Not sure how to tell if your smoke alarm needs a new battery?

These simple life-saving devices are pretty easy to understand. If it sounds, there’s a fire. If it screams at random for no reason, there’s a glitch that needs to be fixed or the smoke detector has reached the end of its life.

If the smoke detector chirps relentlessly and the green light turns red, the battery needs to be changed. It’s as simple as that.

One of the many benefits of installing smart smoke alarms is the lack of ear-piercing demands when the battery is running low. Instead of startling you in the middle of the night, a smart smoke alarm will send push notifications to your smartphone or tablet until the batteries are changed.

Upgrading to smart home technology also takes the guessing work out of it. We’ve all wandered through our homes with batteries in hand, listening hard and trying to detect which detector is beeping. Smart detectors will send you a notification that encourages you to change the batteries and identifies the alarm in need.

vivint smoke detector notification on app
With smart smoke detectors from Vivint, you'll receive a notification when smoke has been detected or the batteries need to be changed.

How can you test smoke detector batteries?

The United States Fire Administration stresses the importance of regular smoke alarm battery tests. Fortunately, testing a smoke detector battery is a breeze. Use these steps to make sure your fire protection system is fully functional.

  1. Let everyone in the house know that you’ll be conducting a test, so as not to spur panic and fear when the alarm sounds.
  2. Locate the test button on the face of the alarm and hold it down. Within a few seconds, the alarm should sound.
  3. Repeat for every smoke detector in your home and change the batteries for any device that doesn’t respond or lets off a weaker, quieter sound than the rest.

How often should you test your smoke alarm?

Regardless of which type of smoke alarms you have or how they work, you should make a habit of testing each one regularly. The USFA recommends testing smoke alarms on a monthly basis.

Monthly testing is especially crucial if you’re still using old-fashioned battery-powered smoke alarms, as opposed to hardwired alarm systems.

How long do smoke alarm batteries usually last?

The average smoke alarm battery life is one year, but this time frame will vary depending on the type of alarm system you have in your home and the batteries you use to power it. For most alarms, the smoke detector battery change frequency is anywhere between six to twelve months.

For hardwired smoke alarms that only use battery power as a backup in case of power outages, it’s best to replace the batteries on an annual basis.

If you’re using a typical nine-volt battery, you’ll need to change the smoke alarm batteries at least once every year, although many experts recommend changing them twice a year.

If your smoke alarms are equipped with a long-life lithium battery, then you don’t have to change the battery at all. However, you will want to replace the entire system after ten years from the manufacture date, as is the case for any smoke alarm system.

vivint smoke detector ceiling
No matter what type of smoke alarms you have, it's important to test them regularly to ensure they work properly.

How to change a smoke detector battery

Regular smoke alarm battery replacement is essential to keeping your home and family safe in the event of a fire. If you’re not sure how to change a smoke detector battery, follow the simple steps below.

  1. Before you reach for the detector, make sure you’ve got a replacement battery on hand. If you remove the smoke detector to stop the chirping, only to discover that you don’t have another battery, there’s a greater chance that you’ll leave the device disabled until you can remember to grab a battery at the store.
  2. Gently twist or unclip the detector from its base that is attached to the wall or ceiling. Open the cover.
  3. Remove the smoke detector battery from its compartment and replace it with a brand new battery. Never use old or used batteries.
  4. Return the smoke alarm to its base and follow with a quick test to ensure the batteries are properly installed and fully functional.

What if the smoke detector beeping doesn’t stop?

After replacing the battery and conducting a test, you could find that the alarm is unresponsive, sounds nuisance alarms, or continues to beep. As simple and reliable as most of these devices are, some smoke detector malfunctions aren’t completely unheard of.

Stay calm and try these additional steps.

  1. Make sure the battery is installed tightly and correctly, with coordinating male and female terminals aligned properly.
  2. Try a different brand-new battery.
  3. Use a soft bristle vacuum attachment to remove dust buildup in the chamber entrances.
  4. Open the device and inspect the sensor to ensure there isn’t a small bug, a stray fuzzy, or another small particle that could be interfering with the sensor.
  5. Check the manufacture date on the back of the device. If your alarm is nearing or has exceeded ten years, it’s probably malfunctioning and will need to be replaced with a new detector.
vivint smoke detector
If your alarm won't stop beeping, don't worry. Try these additional tips to fix it.

Upgrade your home with new smoke detectors

Nuisance alarms, incessant chirping, frequent maintenance, malfunctioning sensors: if you’re tired of dealing with a disobedient or difficult smoke alarm system, upgrade to a fresh set of smart smoke detectors.

Vivint Smart Home provides homeowners with a fire alarm system that is simpler, smarter, and far more intuitive than dated models. Improve the safety of your home and family by installing a complete smart home system from Vivint.

Call one of our Smart Home Pros today at 800.646.1469 for a free quote on a customized system for your home.

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