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When Should I Replace My Smoke Detectors?

On April 20, 2023, In smoke detection,


Smoke detectors and smoke alarms are essential to keeping your home or business safe. Like most devices, they wear out with time, making it just as important to know how long they last or how often they need to be replaced. Regular maintenance, cleaning and battery changes can help your devices operate efficiently for longer, but you will still need to replace them when the time comes.

The Difference Between a Smoke Alarm and Smoke Detector

A smoke alarm is a stand-alone device with a built-in audible sounder and a sensor that monitors smoke. It operates on 110 volts and emits a loud sound to alert people in a home or building when it detects smoke.

Most smoke alarms today are connected together so if one smoke alarm detects smoke upstairs, for example, the rest of the smoke alarms in the residence are set off simultaneously. The exception would be basic battery-operated smoke alarms that work independently and do not report to any other device or system.

A smoke detector is different from a smoke alarm because it is a smoke detector that is part of a fire alarm system control panel and typically does not emit sound on its own. A smoke detector’s job is to detect smoke and alert a main fire alarm control panel. A smoke detector is a low voltage device and uses sensors to detect the presence of smoke before activating the entire system.

The benefit of a smoke detector and a fire alarm system are significant. Smoke detectors on a fire alarm system will report to the system when they are not functioning properly or if one has been removed your system will alert you. A fire alarm system can also be monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week by a UL Approved Central Station such as the Wayne Alarm Systems Central Station. Monitored smoke detectors in your home or business can improve life safety and provide savings on insurance costs.

Average Life Span of a Smoke Detector

Wayne Alarm recommends changing smoke detectors every 10 to 12 years on average, but this varies depending on the environment. Over time, the device accumulates dust, debris and insects, which impacts its performance. This buildup can affect its sensitivity and cause it to lose its ability to detect smoke. Check the device for an expiration date if you are unsure how long it has been operating.

Smoke detectors can begin to fail before they hit their average life span for various reasons, including a lack of proper maintenance. While there are no requirements to replace smoke detectors within a given period, it is recommended to do annual inspections to ensure your system is working properly. However, according to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards, smoke-detector fire alarm systems in commercial buildings are subject to mandatory semiannual inspections.

When to Replace a Smoke Alarm

Unlike smoke detectors, smoke alarms need to be replaced every 10 years according to the NFPA and manufacturer specifications. Note that a smoke alarm can become problematic before this time. Here are a few signs to look for that may indicate your smoke alarm needs to be replaced:

Repeatedly Chirps

If your smoke alarm is continuously making a chirping sound, it’s notifying you that there is an issue. The sound can be a signal that the battery is dying. In that case, you can easily solve the issue by replacing the battery with a new one. If the chirping sound still persists after you’ve installed a new battery, you will need to replace your smoke alarm.

Reaches Expiry Date

A clear indicator that your smoke alarm is due for a replacement is the date of manufacture found on the back of the device. Smoke alarms need to be replaced 10 years from the date. If you’ve had your smoke alarm for longer, it is time for a replacement.

Goes Off Without Reason

As time passes, your smoke alarm can develop sensitivity instability. It can begin to sense issues that are not there, which causes it to go off unexpectedly. While we want our smoke alarms to pick up any presence of smoke immediately, it becomes an issue if it starts detecting smoke that is not there.

It is not uncommon for some homeowners to take their smoke alarms down or continuously replace the batteries to keep them quiet. Replacing the smoke alarm is a much safer option when you have this issue.

Does Not Respond Well When Tested

It is recommended to test your smoke alarm monthly to ensure it is still working properly. To test it, you only have to press the test button on your device and wait for a loud beeping sound. If your smoke alarm does not make any sound or produces muffled beeps, it is time to replace it.

What Causes a Smoke Alarm to Beep?

One of the most common reasons a smoke alarm with a 9-volt battery beeps is that the battery is low. Smoke alarms are programmed to make a beeping sound when the battery is low.

A beeping sound can also occur when you have a combination of smoke alarms or smoke detectors with carbon monoxide (CO) detectors. The combined systems work together to monitor smoke or carbon monoxide that is present in your home. Your alarm may beep as an indication that your CO unit has expired.

A definite way to find out why your wireless smoke detector or combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are beeping is by checking the status on the system keypad. The keypad acts as a central panel for your system and acknowledges when a sensor detects smoke or when the battery is low.

Benefits of Properly Working Smoke Detectors

Having smoke detectors in your home or business is an important safety measure, but it means nothing if they are not working properly. If you have smoke detectors that are over 10 to 12 years old it may be time to contact us for a consultation. Smoke detector systems for homes and businesses provide a variety of benefits including:


A monitored low-voltage smoke detector provides a higher level of safety for your family than a regular smoke alarm. If an incident occurs in your sleep or while you’re away, you will have peace of mind knowing that a monitoring company will instantly know when the alarm has been triggered and contact emergency services.

Minimized Fire Damage

The smoke detector sends signals to the fire alarm panel, immediately alerting you when smoke is present or a potential fire is occurring. When a fire is detected early, it can be put out faster, which could potentially save lives and lessen the damage to your property or belongings.

Insurance Discounts

Insurance companies will give you a better discount on your homeowners’ insurance when you have monitored low-voltage smoke detectors. When you install monitored devices, emergency services will be alerted as soon as a fire starts in your home, reducing the risk of complete property damage.

Contact Wayne Alarm Systems for A Free Consultation

Contact the Professionals at Wayne Alarm Systems for Security System Installation

The necessity of having working smoke detectors is evident. Smoke detectors make it possible to spot fires more quickly, and they also provide the assurance that you, your family and your property are safe.

At Wayne Alarm Systems, we understand the importance of replacing failing smoke detectors or smoke alarms, and we want to give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your home is safe. We provide monitored smoke detectors that will alert you when there is a potential fire and notify the local emergency services.

Ready for a smoke detector replacement? Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

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