How to Stop a Beeping Fire Alarm

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Harmless smoke and steam from cooking sometimes activates fire alarms.
Harmless smoke and steam from cooking sometimes activates fire alarms. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

When they warn you of a real emergency, fire alarms are an invaluable safety device. Fire alarms occasionally beep when they detect harmless steam or smoke -- perhaps from a minor mishap in the kitchen -- and then continue beeping incessantly. At other times, they beep intermittently to signal that something is wrong with the alarm system. Whatever the reason, learning to shut it off can save you a headache and keep the fire alarm functioning for future genuine emergencies.

Things You'll Need

  • Towel
  • Vacuum
  • Batteries

Check for fire or smoke near the beeping smoke detector. Remain cautious and assume that the fire alarm is beeping to warn you of a real emergency. If you find no fire and you are certain it's a false alarm, press the "Silence" button (it may also be labeled "Test") on the detector. If this doesn't quiet the alarm, hold the button down for several seconds until the beeping stops. Then hit the button again to reset it.

Replace the batteries, especially if the alarm "chirps" at intervals. This is the fire alarm's way of telling you its battery power is running low. Twist the round cover of the smoke detector until it clicks off the wall. Open the door on the back of the detector and remove the batteries, then replace them with new ones. Make sure they are positioned correctly in the battery slot before remounting the smoke alarm on the wall. Press and hold down the button on the front of the fire alarm to test it.

Open a door or window and wave a towel in front of the fire alarm if unthreatening smoke or steam has caused it to beep. This should be your "go-to" method when it beeps from shower steam or burnt cooking.

Remove the smoke detector from the wall and clean it. Gently wipe it clean and vacuum it with a soft brush attachment to remove dust and insects that might have become trapped inside and set off the alarm.

Replace fluorescent lights with another type of light -- such as incandescent bulbs -- if they are near the fire alarm. Fluorescent lights that produce heat can sometimes set off fire alarms, according to the Tucson Fire Department website.

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