Will Taking the Battery Out of My Smoke Alarm Set It off?

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Make sure to keep fresh batteries in your smoke alarm.
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Keeping your smoke alarm powered with fresh batteries is crucial for protecting your home and your family. Removing the battery from a smoke alarm, also called a smoke detector, won't set the unit off and start the fire alarm beeping. Instead, it will likely do the opposite and disable the unit. Because of this, there is really only one reason for you to ever remove the battery and that is to replace it with a fresh one.

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Tip

Removing the battery from your smoke alarm won't set it off. It kills the power to the alarm and renders it useless, so you should only remove the battery when you're replacing it with a new one.

Smoke Alarm Power Sources

Smoke alarms draw power in either one of two ways. Some are battery powered, with either a 9-volt battery or a 10-year lithium battery. Without the battery, neither of these units has the power to go off.

Other smoke detectors get hardwired, meaning they tap into and draw their power from the home or building's electricity. Hardwired alarms often have a battery backup just in case the electrical power goes out. If you take the battery out of one of these units and your power goes out, the alarm will fail to sound and warn you of the danger.

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Invalid Battery Removal Reasons

If a smoke alarm repeatedly sounds false alarms or intermittently beeps or chirps, you might be tempted to remove the battery to silence the noise. Instead of doing this, you should simply remove the cause of the alarm or move the unit itself to a different spot where smoke from cooking or steam from hot showers won't accidentally set it off. You could also open a window to allow in fresh air.

A smoke alarm will also chirp or be set off from dust or dead insects that collect inside the unit. Instead of removing the battery, try to clean and vacuum out the unit to see if it stops beeping. Chirping can also be a sign that the battery is dying and needs to be replaced. A fresh battery should solve the problem.

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When to Remove the Battery

The only time you should take out the batteries is when you're putting new ones in the alarm. Units that contain 9-volt batteries and backup batteries should get a fresh battery every six months. Many smoke alarm manufacturers and fire safety associations recommend changing the batteries on the same day you reset your clock in accordance with Daylight Savings Time. There is usually no need to replace a 10-year battery because the units themselves last only 10 years. You should install a replacement smoke alarm instead.

Smoke Detector Battery Concerns

Whenever you take the battery out of an alarm to replace it, immediately install the new battery before you have the chance to forget. Leaving the battery out of an alarm puts you in danger in case there is an actual fire. When you replace the battery, make sure it's securely in place or that the battery drawer is closed fully. If your smoke alarm is chirping even after a battery change and a cleaning, replace the entire unit. It could be old or faulty, which also puts your family at risk if it doesn't go off when there's a fire.

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Christopher John

Christopher John has been a freelance journalist since 2003. He has written for regional newspapers such as "The Metro Forum" and the "West Tennessee Examiner." John has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Memphis State University.