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Smoke Detector Battery Replacement Process

Why am I writing about replacing smoke detector batteries?  It’s all about process improvement. Every six months, we are tormented by our home smoke detectors chirping after we replace the batteries.  As a rule, we know we’re supposed to replace smoke detector batteries at daylight savings time (twice a year). Also, if the smoke detectors start chirping or beeping off and on, we know it’s time to change the batteries.  Six months ago, I decided I was going to put an end to the chirping once and for all.  I planned to document the battery replacement process and find out how to consistently replace the batteries with no chirping.  I created a decision table to help me get it all out on paper.  I then spent a few hours writing test procedures and testing the outcomes.  If you want to drive yourself a little crazy, listen to smoke detectors screaming in your ear for a few hours.  After all was said and done, I had a successful process documented.

You may ask yourself why I didn’t check Yahoo Answers or eHow for the answer to my problem.  Well, I did and they sucked!

I searched on:
Smoke Detector Battery Replacement Process, How to Change the Batteries in Your Smoke Detector
Chirping Smoke Detectors
Stop Chirping Smoke Detectors…

So, if the planets align and there is some poor sucker out there suffering from the same problem, I hope you find this post and it works for you.

Scenario:  We live in a three level home.  Each of the smoke detectors is wired into a single circuit and they all use 9volt batteries.  We are using standard First Alert smoke detectors.  In the past, if we replaced any or all batteries, the smoke detectors would chirp randomly.

How to avoid the annoying smoke detector beeping

  1. Replace the battery and make sure the + and – are facing the correct direction.
  2. One smoke detector at a time, replace the battery, connect the electrical plug, then push the test button.
  3. Let the detector cycle through the screaming load test.
  4. If there is more than one detector, move on to the next.

What was the problem?

The problem I was running into was the hush button.  The detector was so loud, I would push the hush button before it was allowed to run it’s test cycle.  I included the action on my decision table and was able to isolate the problem there.

Just in case, in the event I forgot the process, I saved it in Evernote.  I just replaced all of the batteries and it worked perfectly.  I was so excited, I just had to blog about it.


About Derek Huether

I'm Vice President of Enterprise Engagements at LeadingAgile. I'm super focused on results. But I also take the hand waving out of organizational transformations. I come from a traditional PM background but I don't give points for stuff done behind the scenes. The only thing that counts is what you get done and delivered. Author of Zombie Project Management (available on Amazon)

11 Responses to “Smoke Detector Battery Replacement Process”

  1. Dmcsolo
    October 17, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    I think you may have just saved my sanity. I have been chasing chirps all day and pushed the test buttons on each after replacing the battery… but I hastily pushed the hush button to silence the annoying siren of noice!! Bracing myself for the full test run and trying it now.

    • Anonymous
      October 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

      If this works for you, then it made my day. They should have “don’t push the hush button” in the instructions. So glad I could help!

  2. Gast408
    January 22, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Trying to install a new battery in the smoke alarm.  When I close the cover a plastic tab in the cover pushes the battery away from the contacts.  Any ideas about the situation?

    • Anonymous
      January 22, 2012 at 6:41 pm

      I have one of those in my detector. It’s spring loaded. You should be able to push it into the alarm, then insert the battery, then put the cover on.

  3. Griffinb58
    February 22, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    This is what my son must have done last night when he tried to help me.  The chirps stopped until he left.  As soon as he was gone, it started up again and lasted all night.  I was greeted by the chirps when I got home tonite.  I didn’t get any sleep last night.  Lets hope this strategy works.  I am sure this would be a good Chinese torture treatment.

    • derekhuether
      February 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm

      Though I can’t guarantee it will work, I will admit that I return to my blog post every 6 months and reread before I begin to replace the batteries.

  4. Mr. Chirp
    June 24, 2012 at 10:57 am

    There no actual information here abt how to chg the battery.

    So in that respect it’s like the other sites you mentioned.


    • derekhuether
      June 24, 2012 at 1:34 pm

      Duly noted. Open battery access panel. Remove old battery. Replace with new battery. Close battery access panel. Follow instructions above.  

      This is the first I have heard of anyone not being able to replace the actual battery.  I’ve only heard complaints on how to get the detector to stop chirping. Hope the additional instructions are found useful. 

  5. Guest
    February 18, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Awesome, Thanks. I always forget to pick up a replacement at the store. Then the thing ends up chirping in the middle of the night and I yank the battery out (and still forget to pick one up for weeks). Thank goodness I found the batterynotice website. They send me batteries for all my detectors every 6 months with a reminder

    • derekhuether
      February 18, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      Funny how I posted this a few years ago yet I find myself rereading my post every 6 months when the alarms start chirping again

  6. November 9, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Yep, time to change the batteries again. I wonder if the Next smoke detectors are any better.

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