Q: How often do you need to change the batteries?
Actual battery service life depends on the particular design of your smoke or carbon monoxide alarm and the environment in which it is installed. All kinds of alarm batteries specified in the user's manual are acceptable replacement batteries. Regardless of the manufacturer's suggested battery life, you MUST replace the batteries immediately once the unit starts "chirping" (the "low battery warning"). It is recommended that you change the batteries in your alarms when you change your clocks for daylight saving time. Also consider replacing your current alarms with 10-Year Life Alarms that never require a costly battery replacement for the ten year life of the alarm. This 10-Year series is available in smoke
, carbon monoxide
and combination alarms
Q: What is the proper placement of smoke alarms?
A: It is important that you have the proper placement for your smoke alarms. Install your alarms at least 20 feet from appliances like furnaces and ovens, which produce combustion particles. Alarms should be at least 10 feet from high humidity areas like showers and laundry rooms, and at least 3 feet from heat/AC vents. Be sure to install a smoke alarm in each bedroom, one at the top of each stairwell, and one on every level.
Q: My smoke alarm keeps chirping and beeping. Why does my smoke alarm chirp intermittently?
It is likely that the reason your smoke alarm keeps chirping and beeping is that the battery is low. Whenever your smoke alarm keeps chirping, replace the battery immediately.
Other reasons include: It could be a different device or appliance such as a security system, monitor, carbon monoxide alarm, or other device which has a similar low battery or alert signal. Some of the same factors that cause unwanted alarms can cause intermittent alarms: dust and insects in the alarm or power interruptions in hardwired alarms. Improper wiring on AC or AC/DC smoke alarms. AC alarms will chirp every 5 seconds if the interconnect wire is grounded. The orange interconnect wire should NEVER be grounded; it should only be used to interconnect other smoke alarms or compatible devices.
Q: Why doesn't my smoke alarm sound when I push the test button?
It is important that you frequently test your smoke alarms. When you are testing your smoke alarm, there are a number of reasons why the alarm might not sound:
- You may not be holding the test button down long enough. Try holding it down for up to 10 seconds (20 seconds on photoelectric models) .
- Your battery may not be installed properly or snapped all the way in place. Even if the alarm sounded briefly when the battery touched the terminals, you still need to make sure it is snapped securely in place. If the battery is loose, in cannot power the smoke alarm properly. After installing new batteries, be sure to test your smoke detector.
- Your AC power may not be on. AC and AC/DC units will have a power indicator light (red or green) that shines continuously when they are receiving electrical power.
- If you have a 10-Year model, the smoke alarm may not have been properly activated. If the tab broke away before the alarm was activated, you can use a toothpick to move the switch over to test the alarm.
Q: Why does my smoke alarm go off when I install a battery or turn on the AC power?
It is normal for smoke alarms to go off and sound briefly (up to 5-10 seconds) when you install a new battery or when they are powered up. If the alarm continues to go off and no smoke is present, the cause may be one of the following:
- There may be insufficient battery power, try new batteries.
- Problems with voltage or insufficient electrical power (brown out) may cause a continuous weak sounding alarm. For AC or AC/DC models, temporarily disconnect power at the service panel until the brown out is over. If you do not restore the AC power, your smoke alarms cannot warn you of a fire.
- Incompatible warning device. If an incompatible alarm or auxiliary device is linked into a series of AC or AC/DC smoke alarms it may cause the system inadvertently go off.
Q: My smoke alarm keeps chirping, even with a new battery. What is causing this?
There are a number of possible causes for your smoke alarm to keep chirping even with a new battery.
- It is possible that your smoke alarm "silence" button was pushed by mistake. The alarm will now "chirp" once a minute for up to 15 minutes before resetting.
- Are you sure it's the smoke alarm? Funny to ask, but other devices have similar low battery chirps or warning tones.
- Your "new" batteries may not be fresh. If batteries are stored, especially in cold areas like refrigerators, they lose their charge more quickly. Always check the freshness date on the package when buying new batteries. Keep plenty of replacement batteries on hand so that you are sure to always be protected by your smoke alarms.
Q: I lost my First Alert smoke alarm owner's manual. How can I get a new one?
First Alert smoke alarm owner's manuals are available online for download at no cost. Find your alarm in our Smoke Alarms
Q: Why does the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommend that home smoke alarms be replaced after 10 years?
Smoke alarms have a limited life. Although each smoke alarm and all of its parts have passed many stringent tests and are designed to be as reliable as possible, any of these parts could fail over time. Therefore, you must test the devices weekly. The unit should be replaced immediately if it is not operating properly. The performance of smoke alarms older than 10 years is simply not reliable. To ensure your family's safety, all carbon monoxide and smoke/CO combination alarms need to be replaced every 5-7 years. All smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years.
If it's time to replace your alarms, consider the NEW 10-Year Life series and never have to worry about a battery replacement for the life of the alarm.10-Year alarms are available in smoke
, carbon monoxide
Q: How do I get my carbon monoxide alarm to stop chirping?
A: If your carbon monoxide alarm keeps chirping, the battery may be low or weak. On First Alert carbon monoxide detectors, check to see if the battery light is yellow or green. If the alarm is chirping and the light is yellow, it means the battery is low. The way to get a carbon monoxide alarm to stop chirping is to replace the battery.
Q: Where should I install carbon monoxide alarms? What is proper carbon monoxide alarm placement?
A: It is very important to install carbon monoxide alarms near or in each separate sleeping area. Many states now require that a carbon monoxide alarm is placed in each bedroom. For added protection, placement of an additional carbon monoxide alarm at least 15-20 feet away from the furnace or fuel burning heat sources is recommended. Also, install carbon monoxide alarms at least 10 feet from sources of humidity like bathrooms and showers. In two story houses, install one carbon monoxide alarm on each level of the home. If you have a basement, carbon monoxide alarm placement is recommended at the top of the basement stairs.
Q: Is there anywhere I shouldn't install carbon monoxide alarms?
A: Do not install carbon monoxide alarms in garages, kitchens, furnace rooms, or in any extremely dusty, dirty, humid, or greasy areas. Do not install alarms in direct sunlight, or areas subjected to temperature extremes. These include unconditioned crawl spaces, unfinished attics, un-insulated or poorly insulated ceilings, and porches. Carbon monoxide alarms should not be installed in outlets covered by curtains or other obstructions. Do not install in turbulent air-near ceiling fans, heat vents, air conditioners, fresh air returns, or open windows. Blowing air may prevent carbon monoxide from reaching the CO sensors.
Q: How many carbon monoxide alarms should I have in my home?
A: So how many carbon monoxide alarms should you have in your home? The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends that you should have a carbon monoxide alarm centrally located outside of each separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedroom. For added protection, you should have additional carbon monoxide alarms in each separate bedroom and on every level of your house, including the basement. Some states now require that you have a carbon monoxide alarm in each bedroom of the house. If you install only one carbon monoxide alarm in your home, place it near or in your bedroom.
Q: What is the proper way to do a carbon monoxide alarm test?
A: The following procedure is the proper way to do a carbon monoxide alarm test - Press and hold the Test Button on the front of the alarm until the alarm sounds. Be sure you hold the button down long enough; it can take up to 20 seconds for the alarm to respond to the test.
Q: Is it a false alarm when my carbon monoxide alarm sounds and there doesn't seem to be a problem?
A carbon monoxide alarm false alarm should not occur if your alarm is in working order. Remember, carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. If your carbon monoxide alarm went off, it detected potentially harmful amounts of carbon monoxide. After the professionals have evaluated the situation, make sure no one has any symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Here are a few situations that may cause a carbon monoxide alarm "false alarm:"
The carbon monoxide alarm needs to be relocated. Carbon monoxide alarms should be located 15-20 feet away from all fossil fuel burning sources like furnaces and stoves. Alarms should be located 10 feet away from sources of humidity like showers.
Fossil fuel burning appliances may not be burning fuel completely. Check pilot lights/flames for blue color. Appearance of yellow or orange flames indicates incomplete combustion-a source of carbon monoxide.
Q: Will carbon monoxide alarms detect explosive gas leaks?
A: No, a single function carbon monoxide alarm reacts to carbon monoxide only. To detect explosive gas, you need an explosive gas detector. Different kinds of explosive gas can be detected and it is recommended that any home that utilizes natural or propane gas have at least one explosive gas leak detector.
Q: I'm ready to change my alarm battery - what replacement batteries can I use?
A: Check your User's Manual or the nameplate on the back of the alarm. Different smoke detectors & CO alarms use different kinds of batteries - 9V, AA, AAA - it all depends on the particular model you have. Use quality batteries like lithium batteries - having plenty of power is worth any extra cost. Never use rechargeable batteries because they may not always provide a consistent charge.