Smoke detectors are among the most important safety devices in the home. Statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, based on 2012-2016 data, reveal 40% of home fire related deaths happened in residences without smoke alarms, while 17% of deaths occurred where alarms weren’t working. About 25% of device failures were caused by dead batteries. In 43% of cases where smoke alarms failed during fires, missing or disconnected batteries were to blame.
But that doesn’t answer the quintessential question many homeowners have: Why is my smoke detector chirping in the middle of the night?
Nobody wants to be woken up because of a false alarm. A chirp, which may or may not suggest a problem, is certainly not as blaring as a smoke detector during an emergency. It is nonetheless something that gets your attention. Here’s why smoke detectors are more likely to start chirping at night:
Batteries, Batteries, Batteries
Of all the components in a smoke detector, the battery gets the most attention. Alkaline batteries are typically used in smoke alarms. These produce energy via a reaction between zinc metal and manganese dioxide that is affected by temperature.
An alkaline battery can lose 2% of its power every year when stored at room temperature. Raise the temperature to 85°F, and the battery will drain by 5% per year. If you live in a hot climate, the effect is even worse. A battery will lose 25% of its energy in 100°F temperatures.
Alkaline batteries only need to be stored in a freezer if you live in a tropical climate without too many seasonal variations.
However, batteries are affected by temperature whether they are installed in a device or not. Colder temperatures will slow battery discharge. The cold will also result in a weaker voltage for an electrical device, negatively affecting its performance.
Chirp, Chirp, Chirp
A chirp is a smoke detector’s way to alert you of a low battery. But it doesn’t necessarily mean the battery is about to go dead. The temperature is generally cooler at night and, in turn, lower temperatures mean slight drops in voltage. The drop might be minimal but enough to affect a chemical reaction that triggers the smoke detector’s low battery alarm.
All this tends to happen in lower temperatures, in the dark, and of course at night, when everyone is trying to sleep. You wish you could turn over and ignore it. While you could do so tonight, don’t wait too long to test the battery and/or replace it. The smoke detector battery in question may have lost a significant amount of its power, and you don’t want to be left with a dead alarm. A non-functional smoke detector can put your life in danger.
Call Your Los Angeles Electrician for Proper Smoke Alarm Installation
Express Electrical Services serves all of Southern California, including Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County & Ventura County. Our electricians offer a variety of electrical services & home safety services and we have a 60-90* minute response time on most services.
We guarantee same day response time for requests for emergency electrical services received before noon,
Monday through Saturday; our service within 60 minutes guarantee is subject to availability of electricians, and unless we have advised you at the time of the service call of a delay, if we do not arrive within 60 minutes of the end of our call with the Customer, the initial service call fee will be waived. We cannot guarantee same-day service or service within one hour on Sundays, but will do our best to respond to emergency service calls on Sundays, subject to electrician availability; there will be no waiver of the initial service call fee on Sundays. License: #992260