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Fire Alarm Keeps Going Off? DON’T Ignore It

A fire alarm going off at 3am is a major nuisance. When they start, they don’t want to stop. But fire alarms should never be ignored.

Find out everything to know about fire alarms, including how to turn off smoke alarms that keep going off and how to check and replace a fire alarm battery. 

Why Does Fire Alarm Keep Going off for No Reason?

There’s a few possibilities as to why a fire alarm keeps going off. Common causes are:

  • Dead or dying batteries.
  • Poor placement, like in kitchens, bathrooms or garages.
  • Interference from airborne chemical compounds, like those released from wet paint.

Keep getting false alarms? Jump below for an in-depth exploration of the causes of excessive false alarms.

How to Turn Off Fire Alarms

If there’s clearly no smoke, a smoke detector chirping or flashing red is a sign of a false alarm.

How to turn off a fire alarm depends on the model, but following the steps below should guarantee you some shut eye if your fire alarm is going off in the middle of the night.

1. Press and hold hush button

Press and hold the hush button on the front panel of the alarm for at least 10 seconds. It’s usually the only visible button on the system and may be labeled ‘test’, ‘hush’‘silence’.

Holding the hush button for different time periods has different functions, so consult the instruction manual.

Credit: DIY-time Tech

2. Flip the mains or replace the battery

Investigate the entire property for signs of a fire. If the smoke alarm that’s going off for no reason is hard-wired, try flipping the switch on the mains breaker box. Turn it back on after several seconds. 

If a battery-powered smoke alarm keeps going off every 10 minutes or so, it’s more than likely caused by a dying battery, so replace the battery immediately.

3. Reset smoke alarm after replacing battery

Once you’ve replaced the battery, reset the alarm. 

The beeping might continue even after replacing the battery, so if you’re wondering ‘why does my smoke alarm keep going off even with a new battery?’, it’s likely because the alarm unit itself hasn’t actually been reset. 

Hence, it’s important not to skip this step.

Where is the reset button on my smoke detector?

Most smoke detectors only have one button on them. It carries out multiple functions. Holding it for a longer period of time (upwards of 30 seconds) may trigger a factory reset. 

Other alarms might have a dedicated reset button that requires a pin or pencil to press. If you’re unsure, it’s best to consult the manufacturer’s instructions. 

Never turn a smoke alarm off permanently, as it can leave you vulnerable to the devastating effects of fires.

Pro Tip: Who to call when fire alarms going off 

If inspecting the property reveals a source of smoke, evacuate immediately, prioritizing children, elderly folks, and people living with a disability.

From a safe location outside, call the fire brigade by dialing 911. Do not waste time bringing items from the house outside. If your phone isn’t near you, don’t look for it. Ask to borrow a neighbor’s phone instead once everyone is safely outside.

If you have reason to suspect arson has occurred, mention this to the emergency services dispatcher and they may send police alongside the fire brigade.

5 Most Common Reasons for False Alarms

If false alarms happen frequently, you’ll want to get to the bottom of the cause before replacing the device. Below, dive deeper into the causes of false alarms.

1. Dead fire alarm battery

The most common reason for a false alarm is a dead or low smoke detector battery. 

Without holding it, press the button on the front of the panel to test the battery. If the alarm sounds loudly and clearly, it’s good to go.

If there is no sound, or the alarm is quiet, slurred, or bending in pitch, replace the battery

Pro Tip: Check the battery!

Stay protected by checking the fire alarm’s battery every 6 months, even if it isn’t chirping.

Credit: Everyday Home Repairs

2. Too close to the kitchen

Credit: Kidde Fire Safety

3. Too close to the bathroom

Rising steam from hot water triggers smoke detectors, regardless of how well ventilated the bathroom is.

Not to mention, alarms aren’t usually waterproof, so moisture from steam can damage the circuitry. 

When enjoying a candlelit bath, never leave the lit candle unattended.

Credit: strategicfire

4. Chemical compounds, insects, and dust

There are certain airborne chemical compounds that can trigger a false alarm. 

If some redecorating has recently been done, for instance, there’s a chance that the compounds used to keep paint wet could be causing the electrical current in the detector to break.

Similarly, if the opening to the chamber is wide enough for bugs to crawl inside, they probably will. 

Insects and accumulations of dust can interfere with both photoelectric and ionization smoke detectors, so take a look inside to see if it needs cleaning.

5. Faulty product

If the fire alarm keeps going off despite your best efforts, it may be time to buy a new one.

While fire alarms should, in theory, undergo rigorous testing before being released, there’s a chance that a faulty fire alarm with a weak electrical current was purchased.

Fire alarms must be replaced every ten years, so if it has been longer than that since last purchasing a new one, install a replacement as soon as possible.

Credit: S.E.R Safety


What is the most common cause of false fire alarms?

The most common causes of false fire alarms are dying batteries, burnt food, candles, steam from the bathroom, and cigarette smoke. Less common causes include dust, insects, spider webs, and certain chemical compounds contained in aerosol sprays and paint. 

Do I need to turn off power before changing smoke alarm battery?

Turn the power off at the mains before changing the battery of a hardwired smoke alarm. Doing so without switching off the circuit breaker could cause electrocution. 

For standalone smoke alarms that use disposable batteries, turning the power off isn’t necessary. 

What do carbon monoxide alarms sound like?

Carbon monoxide alarms will usually beep excessively if they detect unsafe levels of CO in the atmosphere. Different models will have different beeping patterns. A ‘low battery’ warning is usually a single beep every few minutes.

Why is my smoke detector beeping?

A smoke detector beeps because a current has been partially broken or reflected by something inside the chamber. Hence, dying batteries can cause a smoke alarm to beep, as well as objects like candles, steam from a bathroom, and other airborne chemical compounds.


A fire alarm that keeps going off is a nuisance, but removing the battery outright is extremely ill-advised. Never go without a fire alarm.