Ministry of the
Solicitor General

Maintaining your Alarm

Make it Stop! Advice for dealing with nuisance alarms

Maintain your smoke alarms

Only working smoke alarms can save your life! Smoke alarms require some simple maintenance to keep them in good working order. These tips will help to make sure your alarms perform as intended-when you need them the most:

Test smoke alarms monthly

Test your smoke alarms every month by using the test button on the alarm. When the test button is pressed, the alarm should sound.

If battery-operated smoke alarms fail to sound when tested, make sure that the battery is installed correctly, or install a new battery.

If electrically-connected smoke alarms fail to sound when tested, make sure the power is turned on to the unit.

If the alarm still fails to sound, replace the smoke alarm with a new one.

Change the batteries every year

Install a new battery at least once a year, or as recommended by the manufacturer. Install a new battery if the low-battery warning sounds, or if the alarm fails to sound when tested.

Beware of chirping smoke alarms

All battery-operated smoke alarms emit a warning sound, usually an intermittent “chirp”, when the battery power is low. When you hear this sound, it’s time to replace the battery. The smoke alarm will continue to work even though it is chirping, so do not remove the battery until you replace it with a new one. The warning signal itself will eventually stop after a few days, so smoke alarms should be tested when you return from an extended absence in case the battery has died.

Vacuum alarms annually

Dust can affect your smoke alarms. Battery-powered smoke alarms should be cleaned by opening the cover of the alarm and gently vacuuming the inside with a soft bristle brush.

For electrically-connected smoke alarms, first shut off the power to the unit, and then gently vacuum the outside vents of the alarm only. Turn the power back on and test the alarm.

Replace older smoke alarms

All smoke alarms wear out. Replace smoke alarms according to manufacturers’ recommendations

(PDF version available on request at AskOFM)