How Often Do You Change Smoke Detector Batteries?

We have been doing the Fall Safety checks on our units together with turning on gas heaters with our plumber.

We always change out smoke detector batteries twice a year. We use the more expensive Energizer Batteries-9 Volt. Maybe every six months is too much, and they should only be changed yearly?

I just read the entire 9-page manual that came with a new smoke detector and it doesn’t say when to change the batteries except for when the thing is beeping.

Can we save time and money by doing this annually? What do you other landlords do?


I do it anually, although in the contract I state that it is the responsibility of the tennant to test detectors and replace batteries.
The owner’s manuals say to test weekly if I remember correctly.
I put that in the contract for fear of getting sued.
My freind put the exact opposite in his contract so he has an excuse to get in the apartment periodically and test the alarms.

I also put fire extinguishers in the kitchens.

FIY October is fire safety awareness month.

I install smoke dectectors in all our houses before we rent them. It’s also in our lease that testing and battery replacement is the responsibility of the tenants. We also install a fire extinguisher in the kitchen (it’s mounted out in the open, not just stuck in a cabinet) and put CO detectors in any house with any gas utilities.
We have the clause in our lease about being able to enter for inspection, in case of emergency, pest control, etc.

We have CO (carbon monoxide) detectors in any unit with gas heat or stove as well. Also fire extinguishers. We have a “Safety Check Sheet” that we fill in and initial and date. This would probably be pretty good protection in case of a lawsuit; it shows diligence and safety mindedness.

It’s just the smoke detectors we are wondering about. We can’t ask tenants to do it since we have way more turnover than you all do. Some units will have 6-7 tenants in a year’s time. Just like a hotel can’t ask you to check/replace batteries.

So I’m back to still wondering if an annual changeover is good enough?


I believe the rule of thumb is every 6 months during daylight savings is best. Why not ask the local fire department what they recommend.

A lot of fire departments recommend semi-annually…when you change your clocks. Many (including DHS) say once a year with long-life batteries is fine.

I changed mine in rentals twice a year - the peace of mind is worth the little extra cost.


The state of Oregon requires 10 year batteries. They last about 6 years, so I simply test occasionally and replace between tenants about every 6 years. I replace more often when the tenants steal the batteries, which happens fairly frequently.

I have a smoke alarm form that gives directions for testing and replacement of batteries, plus let the tenant know to call me if the smoke alarm fails.

You’ve got a lot of turn-over, so you would be able to test frequently.

Our local fire department recommends changing batteries when you change the clock, in the fall. Why? I don’t know, but maybe homeowners probably aren’t required to use 10 year batteries? I’ve seen normal smoke detectors for sale at the big box stores, which is not legal. But at any rate, some one is still using them.

Maybe battery life depends upon climate, because the recommendation here is to change once a year. What do the directions in your smoke detector recommend?

They didn’t say. We’ll probably stick with twice a year as well.


Now the newly-changed smoke detector batteries are beeping! Defective batteries, just bought fresh from Sam’s Club! AARRGH! Big waste of time to notify and re-enter those homes. Best-laid plans…