How to turn off smoke alarms

Updated February 21, 2017

Smoke alarms shouldn't be switched off or disconnected. If they sound too frequently you should relocate the alarm. Smoke alarms can be turned off for a period, however. They have a silence feature which can temporarily quiet an unwanted alarm for up to ten minutes. The unit isn't disabled, it just makes it temporarily less sensitive to smoke.

Determine that the alarm is false and that there isn't a fire.

Press the "Test/Silence" button on the smoke detector that raised the alarm. The red light emitting diode (LED) will flash every ten seconds. If the alarm is in an interconnected series, the red LED on the other smoke detectors will be off. The alarm will go off. The alarm will sound again if the smoke level increases.

Press the Test/Silence" button again when the smoke detector is in its silence mode within ten minutes of the first press of the button. The device will perform its test, the timer will then reset and the device will stay silent for a further ten minutes.

Survey the building to find a better location for the smoke alarm. Look for somewhere that's not in air streams near kitchens; at least twenty feet from furnaces and water heaters; very damp or humid areas; near bathrooms; dusty, dirty or greasy areas; draughty areas; less than 12-inches from a fluorescent light fixture. Dead air spaces can keep smoke from reaching the alarm. Typical dead air spaces which should be avoided are close to the corners where ceilings and walls meet. Keep the smoke detector 4-inches from a ceiling/wall join and out of the corner.


Cleaning the alarm can also help with false alarms. Replace the smoke detector if you think it's faulty.


Never disconnect the power to silence an unwanted alarm. It will remove your protection from fire.

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About the Author

Patrick Nelson has been a professional writer since 1992. He was editor and publisher of the music industry trade publication "Producer Report" and has written for a number of technology blogs. Nelson studied design at Hornsey Art School.