smoke detectors (grrrrr)

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Lothlorien, Dec 11, 2008.

  1. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    They all just went off! No reason. At least my kids woke up. They won't go off though. They are hard wired, so we shut the breaker. They still went off, so we took the batteries out. They were still chirping for about a half hour.

    husband said the power drained quite a bit and a huge gust of wind hit te house, then they all started going off. Mighty Mouse was already freaked out with the "beep beep thing" being in his room. Now, he's really going to be freaked.

    So, it's 2 in the am and I've had about three hours of sleep. Not likely to go back to sleep without an Ambien, which I'm nervous about taking, now, since all of our alarms, except for ONE battery operated one, are disassembled in the garage.

    Thanks for the whine.
  2. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Sounds like the power failure set off the back-up warning (fuelled by the battery). There should be a reset button on each alarm, sometimes it needs a second press but it should switch them off when this happens (for future reference). I usually use a broom handle.

    I've had to use the re-set button a lot because our alarms are so freakin' sensitive, that a dust storm will set them off. Or my cooking. Of easy child 2/difficult child 2 having a hot, steamy shower. Or my lighting the barbecue/pizza oven outside. Or the neighbour lighting the barbecue.

    A low battery will also make the thing go "chirp... chirp... chirp..." ad infinitum until you want to rip the whole thing off the wall. For us though, they are a legal requirement.

    I'm sorry you had such a rough night. Would your local fire brigade help you get them back into good working order so they WON'T do this to you again?

  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    My mother has hard-wired smoke detectors in her house, but they aslo have a battery. When they go off and won't stop, it means the batteries need changing.

    Hopefully, your have stopped by now!!
  4. Ropefree

    Ropefree Banned

    One goes off when ever the cloths are on the spin cycle. I never lived anywhere with smoke detectors befor. It was completely unnerving at first because the batteries needed changing...they went off constantly. Finally I mentioned it in line at the grocery and after I followed the tip no fire alarm with the spin cycle.

    Now I need an alarm when the washer overflows the sink, and the ultility room
    gets flooded.
  5. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Ropefree....they do have alarms for that. Go to the local hardware store and ask for a water sensor alarm. We have one up in the attic where one of our air handlers for the air conditioning is, plus one in our laundry room, which is on the 2nd floor. What a disaster it would be if either of those overflowed.

    Marg...nope no reset button. I asked husband while this was going on....of course he was not such a happy camper last night and there was a little yelling back and forth. I think he's going to stop at the store and buy all new ones tonight. He thinks that with the power draining and coming back on, they got fried with a surge of power. I have no idea, but I don't want to deal with that again.
  6. Anaheimfan

    Anaheimfan Blue Collar Boy

    Chances are better that your smoke alarm needs to be cleaned.
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Loth -

    Our local firemarshall recently had a talk about fire alarms - and I was surprised to find out that NOT only do the batteries go bad? But the smoke detectors should be REPLACED every few years.

    The ones I have in my home have been there for 20 years - and he told us to remove them, buy new and test monthly. (my house has burned to the ground once and badly burned another time) I don't mess around with stuff like this.
  8. Marg's Man

    Marg's Man Member

    I am the firewarden for a really dangerous building - there's over 40 laboratories in it with heaven only knows what's going on in them. So you couldn't even BEGIN to imagine how many evacuations we have due to system faults. (We NEVER have 'false alarms' - it might be wrong but it is not false). I can, and have, dumped over 3,000 people from our six story building in less than 4 minutes.

    The main cause of these are the smoke detectors which trigger due to dust being mistaken for smoke - after all smoke is just a very fine dust. Most of the ones available for domestic use are the ionization type which do this by using a tiny amount of radiation (usually Americium) to detect the smoke particles. Like all radioactive elements this loses it potency after about 5 years and the detector needs to be changed so it can continue to function. Disposing of these units can be problematic due to the radioactive content being too low to be useful but still still too high to be simply dumped in landfill. Hard wired units just use mains power but should have a backup battery in case of power failure that should be changed at least twice a year. They are set up to give a warning if the battery runs low and, by their very nature, HAVE to be something that cannot be ignored. Most usually have a reset button which will stop the noise. These reset buttons often don't look like buttons but just like a lamp cover. If it trips again you really need to figure out why, just like you should check out a fuse that keeps blowing.

    Lothlorien, if it's not too late make sure sure your new alarms have a reset button. Also try to get the photoelectric type. These are more expensive but don't have any radioactive content and last longer before they wear out. You can make both types last longer by using the vacuum cleaner to clean the vents the smoke enters through. This will probably set them off, not bad thing, you know the cause AND you know it's working properly so you can ignore it and reset it. As a test I deliberately set ours off occasionally (usually when Marg is out so she doesn't panic) by holding a couple of incense sticks (or mosquito coil) close to the detector, if I smoked a cigarette would also work.

    As both Anaheimfan and Star have said they are a very necessary item in our houses.

    Marg's Man
  9. Abbey

    Abbey Spork Queen

    Geez...leave it to a guy to come in with all the info. (love ya, Marg's man):tongue:

    In my last house they went off constantly. I always had a baking pan waving constantly at the darn things. It was the desert so maybe it was dust. Who knows.

    This house? I just see them laying around. Another H project yet unfinished. I worry more about gas. No, *I* don't have gas, but a gas heated house. Always been afraid of gas.

  10. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member


    husband tried to find some "ozone" type of thing to clean them, but couldn't find it. The batteries are new. I'll go out and get the compressed air in a can later, today. If that doesn't stop it, then we'll get new ones. That'll be expensive, though, since there are 7 of them.

    The dust makes sense. husband just painted the hallway and dining room. When he paints, he spackles and sands before., creating dust everywhere. I clean everything well, but hadn't thought about the smoke detectors.