Do Electric Smoke Detectors Have to Be Reset?

Unlike battery-operated smoke detectors, which rely on alkaline batteries, electric smoke detectors are hard-wired into your home. Though electric smoke detectors are considered efficient and easy-to-use safety devices, they can experience occasional malfunction, which might trigger an alarm to sound for apparently no reason. In most cases, performing a reset of your electric smoke detector will clear the malfunction and allow the device to operate normally again.

Silence False Alarm

Most residential electric smoke detectors include a convenient feature that allows you to temporarily silence an alarm that has been activated by smoke created while cooking. Examine the smoke detector to locate the "Test/Reset" button; press and hold the button for three seconds to silence the alarm for five minutes. If the smoke has not cleared after five minutes, the smoke detector alarm will sound again. Press the "Test/Reset" button every five minutes until the smoke dissipates, if necessary.

Remove Backup Battery

Electric smoke detectors often come with a backup battery feature that prevents the device from losing power during electrical outages. If your smoke detector malfunctions, you will need to remove the backup battery before attempting a reset so you can completely disrupt power to the device. Take out the smoke detector battery and set it aside. If it has been more than a year since the last time you replaced the battery, insert a fresh battery after resetting your smoke detector.

Quick Reset

If the smoke detector alarm sounds and the cause isn't apparent, attempt a quick reset to silence and reset the device. The process used to perform a quick reset on a residential smoke detector is very similar to the process used to silence a false alarm. Locate the "Test/Reset" button on the smoke detector. Hold down the "Test/Reset" button for five seconds or until the alarm stops sounding. If the smoke detector does not respond to a quick reset, try resetting the device from your electrical service panel.

Circuit Breaker Reset

Reset your electric smoke detector from your home's electrical service panel. Locate the panel in your garage, basement or laundry room and find the circuit breaker switch that corresponds to your smoke detector. If you are unsure which circuit breaker that is, flip each breaker switch between the "Off" and "On" positions until the alarm stops sounding. Leave the circuit breaker switch in the "Off" position for at least 60 seconds to give the device time to reset. Flip the switch back to the "On" position to restore the power to your smoke detector.

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About the Author

Megan Mattingly-Arthur has been writing professionally since 1998. She has contributed to various publications, including "Teen Voices" and "Positive Teens" magazines, as well as a book, "The Young Writer's Guide to Getting Published." Mattingly-Arthur is studying travel and tourism through Penn Foster Career School.