Smoke detectors employ technologies such as the interruption of an electrical current or light to sensors by microscopic soot particles when discovering the presence of dangerous fumes. Innocuous elements like dust or insects should not affect detectors; however, improper maintenance or incorrect cleaning methods may cause deterioration of sensors, leading to intermittent tripping of the alarm. Detectors will have a finite lifespan whereby parts will fail and eventually break down. Once parts fail and proper function is impaired, faults like intermittent alarm tripping can occur.
Detectors that are hard-wired into the home's electricity system will use that energy supply to power it. Many detectors also have a replaceable battery installed as a back-up power supply in case of interruption from the main power. Batteries have a limited life span and will eventually run down. A failing battery will usually trigger a warning chirp to alert the owner a replacement is necessary
The proper location of smoke detectors is critical for them to provide maximum protection. Steam from bathrooms and utility rooms or grease buildup from cooking may cause corrosion or damage to delicate sensors within the detector. Damage and faulty performance can lead to brief, intermittent alarm tripping. A rodent chewing wires or creature infestation has the potential to create a short circuit of electrical components, resulting in a detector emitting faulty sounds.
In most cases, a chirping sound of any duration from a smoke detector is the signal to replace a dying battery. Detectors hard wired into the home power supply may not always have a back-up battery present, in which case, damage or a fault in the unit is likely. Employing trained professionals to investigate and repair defective units is critical in assuring safety of the household and its occupants.