False alarms are annoying. Sure, it’s better safe than sorry, and more often than not, false alarms are worth it. Almost all of us would rather have that happen than the alternative. With that being said, it doesn’t mean they should frequently be happening. You can do things to ensure that false fire alarms aren’t an ongoing issue in your home or place of business.

What Causes Them?

There are a lot of reasons that fire alarms can get tripped. Reasons include dust, insects, strong chemicals, and poor installation. Let’s take a closer look.

Dirt, Dust, and Bugs

Believe it or not, insects cause a lot of false alarms. Some are so small that they’re able to get inside the device and inadvertently mess around with its sensors. This can be exacerbated by excess dust and dirt, making your detector overly sensitive to things in a given area, therefore increasing the likelihood of a false alarm.

Poor Installation

The fact is most business owners at first tend to view fire safety as a sidebar issue to what they have going on with their day-to-day. This makes them want to save on costs by using more inexpensive equipment. While you don’t need the Cadillac of fire safety equipment, you DO need to invest in dependable, reliable brands and products.

Doing so will save you a ton of money. Most false alarms are caused by low-quality detectors and, even worse – poor installation or incorrect placement. Things like being installed too close to a bathroom or in an area where they’re exposed to pollen particles can also make your detector more susceptible to a false alarm. Additionally, be careful about your alarm’s proximity to heat-generating assets like ovens, stoves, radiators, and the like, as those can trip alarms, too.

The best rule of thumb is to try to place your alarms 10-20 feet away from these sorts of things – making it easier to avoid a false alarm. 


One of the biggest culprits for false alarms is chemicals. Microparticles inside your wall and even some cleaning agents can trigger your detector. When you’re repainting your home or commercial space – we recommend disabling your alarm *while* you work and then turning it back on once you’ve had a few hours to settle.

What Can I Do To Avoid These Things?

The first thing you should always try is to clean up the area near your alarm. Like anything else, they accumulate dust, dirt mold, and other debris. Vacuum vents near detectors, sweep and clean the areas around them, even gently wipe them down. And always – rest your device when you do.

Additionally, always be sure you have a fire safety pro come through once a year to check up on your alarms. They may need minor things like battery replacement – but they can also help you figure out where to best place your detectors so they can do their job as intended. Doing so – will dramatically decrease the risk of a false fire alarm.

And above all else – even if you hear an alarm and you’re 99% sure it’s nothing, follow your regular fire safety protocols to the ‘t.’ Exit the building, get people to safety – then try your best after the coast is clear, to try to identify what caused it. And if you’re unsure, call in a pro.

If you have a question about this or any other fire and life safety topic, please get in touch with Protegis Fire & Safety.