In an ideal world, all smoke detectors would function properly all the time. However, the reality is that, at some point or another, you may have to deal with a smoke detector false alarm. In fact, data shows that the Fire and Rescue Service attended 231,510 fire false alarms in a year-long period, ending June 2020. That is around 634 false alarms a day. 

We understand that no sound is more annoying than a smoke detector’s false alarm. If your smoke alarm is constantly going off for no reason, you may be tempted to just ignore it or even remove the batteries. However, smoke detectors save lives. When it comes to fires, every second counts. If you want to make sure that your employees, clients and visitors are able to act swiftly and get out of the building on time in the event of a fire, it’s paramount that your smoke detector is working properly.

Below, we’ll look at what is likely to trigger a smoke detector into creating a false alarm, as well as how to silence your smoke alarm in such instances.

The Potential Triggers Creating A False Alarm

No matter how good your smoke detector is, it may go off without smoke for one reason or another. Here are the reasons for smoke detector false alarms. 

1. The Proximity Of Your Smoke Detector To Kitchen Appliances

If your smoke detector goes off every time you’re in the kitchen, this isn’t necessarily a reflection of your cooking skills. Photoelectric and ionisation smoke detectors are equally sensitive to foreign objects, such as vapour, smoke and steam. This means that smoke from overcooked food or even an increase in temperature can trigger your alarm. For this reason, it’s a good idea to make sure that your smoke detector is at least 10 feet away from kitchen appliances, such as toasters, ovens and stoves. 

While you’re in the process of sorting out where to place your smoke detectors, you may want to make sure that all of your appliances are PAT tested. For more information, read our guide to PAT testing labels and how to complete them.

2. The Actual Placement Of Your Detector

More than that, it’s important to think carefully about the actual room your smoke detector is placed in. The kitchen is arguably the most dangerous room in any home or workplace. In fact, a survey found that a quarter of respondents believe that most accidents happen in the kitchen. So, it’s no surprise that some people believe that the kitchen is the ideal place for smoke detectors. 

However, it is advisable to place your detector in the corridor leading to the kitchen, as opposed to in the actual kitchen itself. Your smoke detector will be just as effective and you’re less likely to encounter smoke detector false alarms. For more handy tips, read our ultimate guide to workplace fire safety

 3. High Humidity And Steam

Dense moisture particles can trigger false alarms, as the smoke detector is unable to distinguish between smoke and moisture particles. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to install your smoke alarm away from kettles or steamy bathrooms.

4. Dust

Similarly, if dust builds up on or around your smoke detector, it can trigger the alarm. Usually, we only pay attention to our smoke detectors when it’s time to replace the batteries. But like your other fire safety equipment, your smoke detector deserves a bit of TLC, especially if you want to keep them functioning properly.

The good news is that cleaning a smoke alarm is a straightforward process. Simply use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove dust, or alternatively, wipe your detector with a cloth.

5. Insects And Bugs

Surprisingly, insects can activate your detector. If an insect manages to get inside the chamber entrance, its movement can interfere with the sensors and trip the alarm.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to prevent these pesky creatures from making their way into your alarm system. Having said that, it is still a good idea to check inside your detector for creepy crawlies if it is going off for no apparent reason.

6. The Battery Is Running Low

If your alarm is making a repetitive beeping sound, there is a good chance that the batteries simply need replacing. It’s important to not ignore this chirping noise, as your smoke detector will eventually die. As a general rule of thumb, it’s advisable to replace the batteries every year. Want to know more? Read our guide on why your smoke detector is beeping, chirping, or sounding off.

7. Strong-Smelling Chemicals

The presence of harsh chemicals nearby can set off your alarm – whether that be bleach, ammonia or even strong paints. If the odour is strong enough to set off your smoke alarm, we can only imagine the effect that it may have on you. For this reason, it’s a good idea to open any windows and doors and exit the room until the smell has dissipated.

8. Smoke Detector Sensitivity

If the above reasons do not explain why your smoke detector is constantly going off, it may just be that your detector is overly sensitive. The good news is that you can easily adjust the sensitivity of a programmable detector.

Our Top Tip For Silencing Smoke Detector Alarms

In order to adjust the sensitivity of a smoke detector, use the testing manual provided by the manufacturer. This should provide clear instructions on how to adjust smoke detector sensitivity. If you’re worried about getting this right, it may be best to seek the services of a fire alarm expert.

Fire Alarm Servicing in Birmingham & Wolverhampton

With the help of Cardinal Fire, you can instruct a skilled and competent fire alarm service engineer to solve your smoke detector false alarm issue. Our teams of experts are only a call away. So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch with one of our seasoned engineers today. 
We offer thorough Fire Alarm Servicing and Maintenance in Birmingham and the surrounding areas. Our qualified engineers will tailor the service to suit the specific requirements of your business. This will provide you with the much-needed peace of mind that your premises are safe for both you and your employees.