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The Mysteries of Smoke Alarms Revealed

Mar 10, 2013|

It’s 7:00 am, and there I am standing on a dining room chair, 8-months pregnant, broom in hand, cursing the gods of smoke alarms. In retrospect, my smoke alarm woes seem comical, but at that moment my kitchen smoke alarm had been on the fritz for 2 hours.

Every 3 minutes and 24 seconds the kitchen alarm would sound off, triggering all other smoke alarms, filling my house with an orchestra of screeching.

The only way to subside the madness was by pushing a button on all house alarms (all located on the ceiling), which I could only reach with the end of a broomstick. So as the kitchen alarm would sound, I would aggressively (perhaps too aggressively) punch the alarm button, carefully dismount my dining room chair, and waddle upstairs (broom and chair in hand) to punch all the other alarms. Then back downstairs to start this madness all over again! Yes, I was a victim of smoke alarm anarchy.

At that moment I swore I would never again be the pregnant lunatic declaring war on faulty smoke alarms. So I educated myself on alarms and here’s what I found:

There are several reasons why a smoke alarm may sound.

  • The first reason is that your house is on fire and there is smoke.
  • A second reason why that pesky alarm is freaking out may be due to environmental factors such as dust, high humidity, and even plug-in air fresheners. Gently vacuum them and keep them not too hot and not too humid. They are sensitive you know!
  • A third reason may be that your smoke alarm needs new batteries. Alarms last ten years, while most batteries do not.

When an alarm sounds we suggest you:

  1. Search for fire, smoke, or potential carbon monoxide (CO—you can check for CO with a CO test kit); if none of those immediate dangers are apparent then,
  2. Change the alarm batteries.
  3. If the alarm is still signaling, read the manual. I know this answer stinks . . . but the manual may be your best resource.

Smoke detectors have a little light that acts as their eyeball. It looks for smoke, feels heat and flashes different colors. When troubleshooting potential reasons that an alarm may sound, refer to your manual. The manual will include info about the different colors this little light will flash, and that may help you figure out what TLC your alarm needs. Smoke alarm manuals also walk you through how to change the batteries. So swallow your pride, and ask your manual for directions.

Alarms go bad after ten years. If you have reached the 10-year mark, retire those alarms with dignity and buy your home some spanking new alarms. You can buy a fire and carbon monoxide alarm online or at a hardware store for about $15.00 to $50.00 a piece, depending on brand and quality. I bought online and am now in a happy relationship with our new alarms. No more brooms and no more cursing!

Vivint offers emergency alarm sensors as well as 24/7 monitoring services. Contact Vivint for more information.

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