Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer - Describing How It Works
Go to the Writer Home Page of Douglas Krantz -- Describing How It Works
Go to the Fire Alarm Operation Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the General Electrical Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the Fire Alarm Description Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the Fire Alarm Installing Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the Fire Alarm Maintaining Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the Fire Alarm Testing Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer
Go to the Fire Suppression Map Page of Douglas Krantz - Technical Writer

Fire Alarm -- Home Fire Alarm

An alarm, somewhere in the room is chirping every 30 seconds or so. Which alarm is it?
The smoke alarm, furnace alarm, or carbon monoxide alarm alarm is chirping every 30 seconds or so, but it's hard to tell which direction the sound is coming from. Which alarm is it?
Douglas Krantz -- Fire Alarm Engineering Technician, Electronic Designer, Electronic Technician, Writer

The Alarm Chirps, Which One is it?

By Douglas Krantz

In the home or apartment, there's a loud chirping, almost like a bird, but it's electronic. Coming from somewhere, every 30 seconds to 3 minutes there's a short "chirp", but where the chirp comes from there's really no way to tell. It could be coming from a smoke alarm on the ceiling, but sometimes it comes from somewhere else.

Confusing Direction

You're not alone with this confusion. Just by listening in the center of the room, I don't know of anyone who can tell where the chirps are coming from.

Causes of the Annoying Chirp

Common sources of this electronic tweet:
  • The Smoke Alarm
  • The Carbon Monoxide Alarm
  • The Furnace Alarm (Yes, for the furnace, sometimes there is an alarm.)

Pay Attention to Me

Usually, a very short chirp doesn't mean there's a fire or the air is full of carbon monoxide. The short intermittent tweeting often means that an alarm needs attention. Something's wrong with the alarm: the battery in the smoke detector needs replacement, the carbon monoxide detector is out of date (they only last for 7 to 10 years, and after that they will not work), or the furnace alarm is faulty.

What To Do

Your job, as homeowner, caretaker, or building maintenance person, is to find out which device is actually chirping, and then replace the battery or the faulty alarm device.

Finding the Alarm Needing Attention

Finding out what is chirping is sometimes harder to do than it seems; no one can tell the direction that the sound is actually coming from.

First, Take a Guess

The only way of finding out where that short chirp is coming from is to make a guess --- then confirm.

Once you've made a guess, put your ear within inches of the device. If you have to, climb on step stool to get close, and listen for the chirp.

If you've guessed correctly, the sound of the chirp will be much louder. If it isn't louder, start looking somewhere else for the device that's chirping.

Guess Again

It's there somewhere and it's chirping, you just have to find it. The alarm could be anywhere. In an outlet near the floor and behind the couch, there could be a plug-in carbon monoxide alarm. It's been there for years and now it needs to be replaced.

Or, maybe close to where the smoke detector is in the ceiling, the furnace alarm is trying to get your attention. Put your ear next to one of these and listen.

Eventually, just by guessing and then confirming, the chirping device will be found.

Replace the Battery First

Compared to the cost of the alarm device, batteries are cheap --- replace the battery first.

If after replacing the battery, the alarm continues chirping, replace the alarm.

Listen and Save

The alarm making the chirping sound could be anywhere. If by getting close and listening, you can find the alarm that needs attention, you can save the cost of having a professional come in and do the listening for you.

Post this by your fire alarm panel -- It shows the in-house fire alarm system and how it calls the fire department.

Popular Articles

What is a Stair Pressurization Fan (SPF)? -- In case of fire in a high rise building, an SPF uses clean outside air to pressurize the air in stairwells. The pressurized air helps people escape... Read More

How Does Class A Fire Alarm Wiring Work?-- Fire alarm systems save lives and protect property. Fire alarm systems also break down because... Read More

What's the Difference Between Class A and Class B? -- The Fire Alarm System is a Life Safety System - so the occupants of a building can escape quickly, the idea behind a Fire Alarm System is that it will provide a warning that there is a fire. The trouble is, if something is wrong with the system, like a wire is broken somewhere in the building, the Fire Alarm System... Read More

What is a Flyback Diode? -- Someone Thinks the Flyback Diode is Important. Manufacturers all over the world spend good money installing these diodes, they must think they're ... Read More

What is a Waterflow Switch? -- The fire alarm waterflow switch, a delayed action mechanical/electrical assembly, is a conventionally wired fire alarm device. The fire department reacts... Read More

What Should I Do When the Fire Alarm Sounds? -- When the alarm sounds, as caretaker for an apartment building, what should you be doing? "I would never suggest turning off the fire alarms, or in any way... Read More

What is a Fire Alarm System? -- Long ago, as earliest method of spreading the word of fire danger, people shouted "Fire!" Depending on the circumstances, people would run... Read More

What Does E=IR Really Mean? -- If it isn't just a word, and it isn't really something to be memorized in order to pass a test, what do the letters in Ohm's Law really mean?... Read More