Troubleshooting Fire Alarms

by Doris Donnerman
(last updated April 1, 2020)


Fire alarms are great, that is as long as they are working properly. Every so often, for some reason or another, fire alarms seem to go on the blink, and keep you awake at all hours of the night. When that happens instead of putting up with the problem, or removing the batteries and having the fire alarm stop work why not try doing some troubleshooting. Troubleshooting fire alarms is particularly easy, as long as you keep in mind five things. Those five items are resetting the alarm, checking the batteries, location, connections, and cleaning.

  • Reset the alarm. When troubleshooting your fire alarm, the very first (and frankly the easiest) thing that you should try is to reset the alarm. Just about all fire alarms have a little button that you can push when it begins beeping that will reset the alarm. This is sort of like a built in system to do the most basic of troubleshooting. After pressing the button, wait a little while and see if the alarm goes off again. You should only have to wait five minutes at most. If it goes off again, try troubleshooting a few other items as well.
  • Check batteries. Often your fire alarm will begin sounding an alarm when the batteries get low. If the alarm keeps going off after you have reset the alarm, then you should check the batteries. The easiest way to do this is to simply replace the batteries. However if you are electrically proficient, and have the proper tools, you can test the battery that way. Another classic method for testing fire alarm batteries (which are usually nine volt) is to touch your tongue to the end. If you have a good battery you will receive a decent—though harmless—shock, if you don't receive that shock then the battery is dead.
  • Check location. When checking the location of your fire alarm you are not only checking its position, but that the fire alarm has been assembled properly. If the housing on the alarm has not been seated properly, or if the alarm is in the wrong location in the home (such as directly over a source of heat) then the alarm can go off even when there is no fire. Ensure that your housing is on properly, and that the alarm is mounted in a proper area (such as in a hallway, or at least away from a direct source of heat).
  • Check connections. As you open the fire alarm to check the batteries take a little time to check the connections. The alarm may go off sporadically if the connections are not firmly seated. All you really need to do is check to make sure that everything is connected as it should be, and that there are no loose wires. If there are, then replace the unit.
  • Clean. Take time to periodically clean the unit. If the unit gets dirty, or bugs get into the unit, it can cause a fault. The easiest way to prevent this from happening is to simply clean the interior of the unit with gently brushing the unit with a dust brush whenever you change the batteries or conduct your monthly testing.

Author Bio

Doris Donnerman

Doris is a jack of all trades, writing on a variety of topics. Her articles have helped enlighten and entertain thousands over the years. ...


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What is three more than 4?

2019-09-28 12:03:21

Franco Porcelli

Hi, I am troubleshooting a residential system. It's a ESL 1500 series. There's only one zone, when zone is disconnected, alarm clears. I went to every smoke detector and bypassed it. The alarm is still present after bypassing each smoke one by one. Horn strobe circuit is not the issue. Anybody have ideas on what the test next.

2016-11-20 21:11:38

Ethel Riffle

We have fire alarms in our bed rooms. When we take showers in master bath the fire a lame goes off. And no reason for it. How can we fix it?

2016-08-15 14:20:40

Nick Mazzocchi

I have a fire trouble now display. The smoke detector closest to the system is properly flashing red every 7-10 seconds. All others are not.
How do I begin to troubleshoot.

2015-07-24 11:34:57


the info is understood.

2014-09-07 03:24:46


Hello Sir,
I am working in Ministry of Health,Saudi Arabia. We are using Esser by Honeywell Fire Alarm control panel (Model.IQ8 Control M). In this panel installed before 2 years but now we are facing too much problems in this panel Loop cards and also network cards. the exact problem is when the Fire alert comes from any loop devices it will make hang for hole panel functions. Can you please suggest me how to fix this trouble??

2014-04-15 08:28:31


hi sir. i have a problem regarding my siemens fc10 alarm panel because it indicated an ALARM HORN FAULT. how to fix this sir? and whats the cause?


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