Home Maintenance: Smoke Detector Maintenance

Smoke detectors – we all should have them in our homes (if you don’t, stop reading now, go to the hardware store, buy one for every bedroom and hallway, and install them). While we easily ignore them as we walk past them every day, they require maintenance. Here’s what you need to know about smoke detector maintenance to ensure your smoke detectors are ready to save your life if needed.

Change the Battery

Some detectors are powered only by a battery, others are hardwired and have a backup battery. Either way, you should change the battery every year. Set a reminder on your calendar to change the batteries once a year. Bonus points for including the battery type in the reminder so you know what batteries to buy.

Smoke detectors are usually located near the ceiling and require a ladder to reach them. Please use your ladder safely and ask a second person to watch and help you.

Changing the battery is pretty easy. Either there is a little tray that you can pull out the side, or you remove the smoke detector from its base by twisting it counterclockwise. Remove the old battery, then insert a fresh battery. Pay attention to the polarity and install the battery correctly.

Clean it

Dust or dirt that accumulates on the smoke detector can interfere with their performance. As part of your monthly house cleaning routine, vacuum each smoke detector to ensure they are clean and unobstructed.

Test it

While you’re up there cleaning the detector every month, push the test button. If you hear an annoyingly loud beep, the button, power source, and noise maker work. If you don’t, something is broken. Therefore you should replace the detector.

Check the age

Smoke Detector Maintenance - Manufacturing Date
Smoke Detector Maintenance – Manufacturing Date

When you change the battery once a year, check the manufacturing date on the back of the detector.

Because the sensor inside a smoke detector has a limited life span, if the detector is over ten years old, replace it. When you push the test button, the one thing that it does not test is the actual sensor inside the unit. That sensor deteriorates, and ten years is the maximum service life.


Smoke detector maintenance is critical and easy. We all hope that we will never need the smoke detector. But if the unthinkable ever happens, you want to make sure your smoke detectors work as intended. It could save your life.