10 safety tips to keep your smoke detector working properly

Written by Adam Morris
5 Min read

Why do I need a smoke detector?

Smoke alarms are an absolute necessity when it comes to keeping your family safe. But occasionally your smoke detectors can go off for no reason. This can be incredibly annoying, especially if you’re just trying to have some nice relaxing time at home or while cooking in the kitchen.
Luckily, it’s easy to turn off a smoke alarm and take the hassle out of your day. Here are five simple steps to temporarily disable a smoke alarm.

Is my smoke detector radioactive?

No, your smoke detector is not radioactive. It’s a good thing that you asked, though.
Smoke alarms use an ionization chamber and an alpha source which emits particles into the chamber. These particles interact with the air, which helps detect smoke. This, however, does not make your smoke detector radioactive. In fact, alpha particles can’t pass through a piece of paper, let alone clothing or human skin. All smoke alarms use a tiny bit of radioactive material, usually Americium-241, in order to power the device. However, these materials are non-fissile and won’t cause any harm. That being said, the amount of radioactivity used in smoke detectors is so low that it simply won’t pose any harm to you or your family.

Press the reset button

If your smoke alarm has been triggered, the first thing you should do is press the reset button. This will stop the alarm from sounding, giving you more than enough time to find out why it was triggered.
Most smoke alarms have a clear reset button which will be located on the main body of the detector. If the reset button isn’t working, then that means there’s something wrong with it.

Remove the battery

If you’re still having problems, then it’s time to remove the battery. To do this, you’ll need to unplug the detector from the wall and unscrew the battery compartment at the back.
Once the battery has been removed, the smoke alarm will be temporarily disabled, and you can take the time to see what’s causing the nuisance alarms. Most detectors use 9-volt alkaline batteries, so make sure that’s what you’ve replaced the battery with.

Check the circuit breaker

If you’re still having problems with your detector, then it’s time to check the circuit breaker. The circuit breaker is responsible for supplying power to the detector, so if it’s been tripped, then that could be why your smoke alarm isn’t working.
To do this, simply locate the circuit breaker box and flip the switch for the detector. Once this is done, the detector should be temporarily disabled, and you can check the rest of your home to figure out why it was going off.

Go to the fire control panel

Some houses may have their smoke detectors connected to a fire control panel. If this is the case, then you’ll need to press the reset button on the fire control panel in order to turn off your smoke detector.
This will usually be found in the hallway near the entrance of your home or in the basement. In some cases, the fire control panel will also have a button which will allow you to reset the smoke detector without pressing the reset button.

Replace the smoke detector

If you’re still having problems, then it’s probably time to replace the smoke detector. The National Fire Protection Association recommends that smoke detectors be replaced every 10 years, so if yours is older than that, then it’s definitely time for an upgrade.
To do this, simply unplug the smoke detector and unscrew the mounting bracket from the wall. Then, simply insert a new smoke detector and plug it into the wall socket.
Reinserting the battery will turn the smoke alarm back on automatically, so you don’t have to do anything else. If you’ve just replaced the smoke detector, then it’s already turned on and ready to go.

Stay Cool About Fire Safety and Smoke Alarms

It’s important to remember that smoke detectors are an important safety component of your home. You should never disable them permanently. It’s also important to remember that other fire safety systems, such as carbon monoxide detectors, shouldn’t be deactivated unless they’re being replaced.
In any case, take a step back and think about why you might be having these nuisance alarms. If your food is burning, that’s a good sign that you’re putting your family at risk. It’s much better to have a false alarm than to let a small kitchen fire get out of control.

Smoke detector installation

Expert Tip:

Make sure to do a double check on the batteries of your smoke detector every six months and replace them when necessary. Never use rechargeable batteries in smoke detectors as they don't always provide enough battery power for the alarm. Additionally, test your smoke alarm by pressing the test button once a month to make sure it's functional and working correctly.

Always read the manufacturer’s instructions before disabling a smoke alarm. This way, you can be sure to avoid any potential mishaps and make sure that your fire safety is maintained.


Check the batteries in smoke detectors at least once a month. Low batteries are one of the most common reasons for false alarms and can easily be replaced. If your smoke detector is more than 10 years old, it’s probably time to get a replacement – regardless of battery life. Old models may be missing important features that keep your family safe.

Be aware of the different types of smoke detectors. Some are designed for larger areas such as carbon monoxide and flame detection, while others only detect smoke particles. Vacuum your smoke detectors regularly to remove any dust or dirt that has built up around them. This helps to keep them working correctly.

Check that all your smoke detectors are interconnected. This means that if one goes off, they will all go off simultaneously. This ensures maximum protection in the event of a fire. Replace your smoke detector if it has been damaged in any way. Fire safety is too important to risk having an inefficient device.


When installing a new smoke detector, make sure that it is placed in a location where it will not be obstructed by furniture or drapery. It should also be mounted at least 10 feet away from any cooking appliances. Test your smoke detector regularly to make sure that it still works correctly. Depending on your model, this can be done with a simple press of the test button on the device.

Finally, remember to never disable a smoke detector permanently. It could put your family in danger if ever a fire were to occur.

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