Can You Unplug a Hard Wired Smoke Detector

Can You Unplug a Hard Wired Smoke Detector

Smoke detectors are a very important part of our homes because they save lives and are a formidable device for preventing fire and fire-related disasters. However, if these smoke detectors are not properly disconnected, they could pose a major safety hazard.

There are several reasons why you may want to unplug your hard-wired smoke detector: probably it is malfunctioning and making some annoying sound, you are probably decorating and want to get it out of the way, and if you want to know if you can unplug the device for some reason, the answer is YES, All you need do is to unplug them from the clip and remove the backup battery.

Smoke alarms and home safety are crucial issues, and today we will be sharing all you need to know about your hard-wired smoke detector and how to manage and get the best from them.

What Are Smoke Detectors?

As the name implies, smoke detectors are devices that detect the surrounding where they are installed, and then they sound an alarm to notify people of a possible fire outbreak.

This is not just one of those devices we fix in our homes just for fun. Smoke detectors are a vital safety requirement because it can be the difference between a family surviving a fire disaster and them getting completely gutted by fire, to say nothing of the valuables that would be lost.

READ: What To Do If There Is Fire On My Apartment Floor

Types Of Smoke Detectors?

There are 2 main ways of classifying smoke detectors, or fire alarms as some call them. The first is based on how the smoke is detected; and there is 4 classification of fire detectors based on this parameter, and they are:

1. Ionization Smoke Detector

This is used to detect fast-burning fires and smoke produced by flammable liquids, kitchen grease, and loosely packed light combustible materials.

An ionization smoke detector has an electrical current always running between 2 metal plates inside it, and when smoke enters the device chamber, the current stops, and the alarm goes off.

2. Photoelectric Smoke Detector

This fire detector has a beam of light that passes through 2 metal plates, and whenever smoke enters the chamber, it will scatter the light beam and consequently cause the alarm to sound. They are highly reliable and can detect very small fires.

3. Heat Detector

Whenever there is an increase in air temperature which is caused by flame, this device goes off. A heat detector is known for sounding false alarms, especially in a humid, dusty, and steamy environment, and they also have a longer reaction time.

4. Ionization/Photoelectric

Many people believe this is the best type of smoke detector because it uses both the ionization and photoelectric component in one unit for detecting fire; this makes it very efficient.

Another way of classifying fire detectors is by their source of power. There are 2 main types of smoke detectors based on power source:

i. Battery-powered smoke detectors

Batteries power these smoke detectors. There are the 9-volt batteries which are usually replaced once or twice a year, and others can last for even ten years, like the Lithium battery. Once they are installed and closed, the battery cannot be taken out.

ii. Hard-wired smoke detectors

This type of smoke detector is powered by the main power supply of the building, but most times, they have backup batteries. An approved technician should install this type of smoke detector.

Can You Unplug a Hard Wired Smoke Detector

To unplug your hard-wired smoke detector, you will need the following:

  • Ladder
  • Multimeter
  • Small screwdriver


Before you embark on this task, ensure that you switch off the power supply from the main power in your house for safety’s sake.

1. If your smoke detector is situated in a place you must access with a ladder, then place the ladder appropriately, ensuring that it is on a level surface and secure before climbing it.

2. Grasp the detector with your hand and then twist it clockwise. This will free the detector from the mounting bracket, pull it gently from the mounting bracket, and disconnect the wires.

3. Get down from the ladder and flip the circuit breaker switch which controls the smoke detector.

4. Then mount the ladder again and inspect the detector wires, but you must ensure that the power to the smoke detector is shut off, and you can test this using a non-contact circuit tester.

6. Press the screwdriver against a retaining tab on the plug-and-socket type of connection. The plug will release the socket as the tab juts out a little from one side of the plug or another

7. Unscrew the wire nuts from the wire and pull the 2 wires apart that were joined by the wires, then screw the nut back onto the wire that leads out from the ceiling or wall.

What Locations In The House Should I Put Smoke Detectors?

There are 2 things to keep in mind as you think of a location to install your smoke detector. 

The first is that smoke is always generated in the kitchen when food is being cooked, and you don’t want a false alarm going off anytime you are cooking.

The second thing is that you want the alarm to sound where you stay the most: in the living room and for the night(when most fires start) in the bedrooms.

The Best Places to Locate Your Smoke Detectors Are

1. On every level of your home: the basement included but not uncompleted attics.

2. On the ceiling at the bottom of any staircase leading to upper floors.

3. On the hallway leading to each bedroom.

4. Near each living area, like the den, living room, and the like.

Smoke detectors should not be placed in bathrooms, garages, and kitchens.

Smoke Detectors “Crying Wolf”

There is such a thing called “nuisance” alarms, which is when a smoke alarm goes off when there is no real danger of a fire. And this has led some people to unplug their smoke detector because they hate that annoying beeping sound of the smoke detector that goes off for no just cause.

This is not a safe thing to do because everyone in that house is at risk of a fire outbreak without any warnings, and this is most worrisome at night when people are sleeping and cannot be warned if there is a risk of a fire outbreak.

Below are some of the possible causes of nuisance alarm:

1. The smoke detector is located near the kitchen or bathroom or any other place where strange can trigger a false alarm. You can mitigate this problem by removing it from such places and reinstalling them in a better place.

2. Wear and tear can affect a smoke detector, especially if it has stayed for more than 10 years (the useful life span of a smoke detector), and it could lead to them sounding an alarm when there is no danger. In this situation, you have to replace the smoke detector.

3. If your smoke detector is poorly maintained, false alarms are bound to occur because dirt, grease, dust, cobwebs, and other debris can collect in the smoke detector. Because of how sensitive this device is, the alarm can be triggered. Regularly vacuuming and dusting the smoke detector is necessary in this case.

4. When smoke detectors are installed while the house is still under renovation or construction, dust and dirt are bound to rise and get to the smoke detector, and this will cause a nuisance alarm. This means that the smoke detector should be covered during construction or renovation work.

5. Even though a smoke detector is hard-wired, it still comes with a backup battery that works in the event the electricity of the building is cut off. If this backup battery is low on energy, it will continue to keep. The remedy to this problem is to replace the battery.

6. When there is a change in the electrical current to the wired smoke detector, it is bound to set off the device, and so also will a loose wire in the smoke detector cause a false alarm.

7. Improper smoke detector installation and grounding the interconnect wire will cause the smoke detector to chirp almost all the time until you correct the problem.


Smoke detectors are a vital device to be installed in every house because they are your first defense against a fatal fire; hence, they must remain connected all the time.

However, suppose there are reasons why you want to unplug your smoke detector, probably during a renovation or wanting to change the backup battery. In that case, you must ensure that you do so properly.

Helpful Links:

We trust this article helped you learn more about hard wired smoke detector. You may also want to check out What To Do If There Is Fire On My Apartment Floor.

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