This annoying chatter coming from your smoke detector can usually be due to a low battery or a battery that has not been correctly installed. Your main interest at the moment may be to fall asleep again, but the chirping warns you that the smoke detector may not work properly – if you want your sleep to be carefree, you’ll need to service the device. Maintenance usually begins with the removal of the appropriate covers.
The smoke alarm system can turn from a two- or three-minute procedure to an emergency room if you are not trying to be safe. Start by turning off the switch that controls the alarm circuit – you do not know which electrical cables can hang behind the cover. Set up a stepladder that is high enough to work comfortably from the second-highest level – if you have to climb higher you can lose your balance. Stabilize the ladder on solid ground – not on a rug – and put on a headlamp so you can see what you’re doing and you’re ready to work.
Remove the battery cover
If you are close enough to inspect the smoke detector, look for a battery cover on the front or edge of the device. Battery covers are not always clearly labeled – especially if the smoke detector has been painted – but you can usually see a small plastic latch. Press the latch with your finger or a flat-head screwdriver into the center of the cover and pull out the cover. The cover may not open immediately, especially if it is painted, and you may need to pry it with the screwdriver. Once it is opened, it will either swing out on a hinge to reveal a 9-volt battery or disengage entirely to expose a pair of AA batteries.
Remove a unit from its holder
If you do not see a battery cover on the outside of the device, it may mean that you need to remove the smoke detector from its holder to access the battery or batteries. Look for a small notch in the side of the unit, and if you see one, insert a flat-head screwdriver into the notch and slide the cover away from the screwdriver. If you do not see a notch for a screwdriver, grasp the body of the smoke detector with one hand and turn it a quarter-turn counterclockwise. It releases from the bracket and you can pull it away. However, do not pull it too far because it is still connected to electrical cables. Disconnect the cables before proceeding.
Cleaning or replacement may be required
If the smoke alarm continues to beep after replacing the battery and turning on the switch, the sensor may be dirty. In this case switch off the switch again; Take the unit down and blow compressed air through the grill on the main cover. If you can not find a battery compartment, it means the device has 10-year lithium-ion batteries that can not be removed. The California Fire Marshall requires this type of smoke detector for new installations. When this type of smoke alarm starts to chirp it means it’s time to replace it.