battery on low

UGH I was super tired this morning and didn't want to wake up.  When I finally got up and went to brush my teeth, I realized my smoke detector is doing the _super_ annoying, infrequent-yet-high-pitched squeak/shriek that means it needs a new battery. 

a) It was probably squeaking for hours, disturbing my sleep but not enough to wake me up, which is why I feel like I didn't get any sleep :(  Why didn't the damn thing just sound the alarm when it needed a new battery, like a normal smoke detector?
b) I know exactly when I replaced the battery - when I moved in on August 1st.  It's only been 3 and a half months, and normally the battery should be replaced every 6 months, right?  So it's unusual to have to replace it so quickly?

All signs are leaning towards buying a new smoke detector, and a caffeine-fueled day.

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