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rds24a
Teach Your Children
Premium
join:2000-12-13
Newton Upper Falls, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Why the **** are my smoke detectors going off?

And no, it isn't the obvious. Checked that. Hard-wired with battery backup system...keeps going off for about 5 seconds every 15-30 minutes. Not the same as low battery - when it does that only the affected detector chirps once per minute.
--
All hail JoePa


joe40

join:2005-11-26
Danbury, CT
smoke blowing in to house (maybe)

i am still trying to figure out why my co detectors went off with the windows open

smoke alarm go off with high moister too.

but may be just a bad alarm or stuck test button


rds24a
Teach Your Children
Premium
join:2000-12-13
Newton Upper Falls, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
Windows closed, A/C on. Now its stopped (knock on wood). If they make it the night I'll try cleaning them in the morning.

The alarm didn't scare me nearly as much as sticking my head into my toddler's bedroom to see him sitting in bed, stiff as a board, eyes wide open, still asleep. Totally Children-of-the-corn.
--
All hail JoePa


Subaru
1-3-2-4
Premium
join:2001-05-31
Greenwich, CT
kudos:1
reply to rds24a
funny thing you should say this.. my detector chirped the other day only once It happens at maybe every 7 months or so.. never could pin-point it.


rds24a
Teach Your Children
Premium
join:2000-12-13
Newton Upper Falls, MA
This was no chirp. It was the whole chain going off for 5-10 seconds.
--
All hail JoePa


Subaru
1-3-2-4
Premium
join:2001-05-31
Greenwich, CT
kudos:1
are they AC powered?

not to go off subject but my aunt's doorbell would always ring when we had a thunderstorm maybe it would be some kind of interference.. but I've never seen what you described before


rds24a
Teach Your Children
Premium
join:2000-12-13
Newton Upper Falls, MA
I thought about it maybe being an AC issue, but the logs on both of my computer UPSs didn't show any events. I almost wonder if a bug didn't crawl into one of the detectors.
--
All hail JoePa


Subaru
1-3-2-4
Premium
join:2001-05-31
Greenwich, CT
kudos:1
is your system set up so when one goes off all of them go off as well? I hope you can find an issue I know it's hard to find out something when it seems like your the only one with some odd issue.


Cho Baka
Premium,MVM
join:2000-11-23
there
kudos:2
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL
reply to rds24a
It happened to my neighbor when his house was new.

He had three of them connected via AC.
The installer came and replaced all three of them with new ones under warranty. It was cheaper for him to replace the set than it was to try to spend the time pinpointing which one was malfunctioning. In addition, another consideration was the inconvenience to my neighbor if the problem wasn't solved on the first visit.

--
Overheard: "I could careless matter of Fact"

dick white
Premium
join:2000-03-24
Annandale, VA
reply to rds24a
Had a similar problem (I knew cause of the alarm, blow-back soot from the oil burner), but not which specific alarm was tripping the whole house-full of them. They are hard-wired with black and white for the power and pink for the interconnect communications wire. I pulled each unit out of its mounting ring and disconnected just the pink wire inside the junction box. I just left them hanging from the ceiling until the next time they set off. Then I could determine exactly which alarm was triggering. When the offending unit triggered, I could smell just the faintest whiff of the oil burner up near the ceiling as I was standing on a chair to pull the unit out to stop the ringing, but there was no odor when standing on the floor.

dw

Tyreman

join:2002-10-08
Canada
reply to rds24a
Could be a defective interconnected unit(s) or a unit(s) with some sort of fouling in the sensing chamber.
You could shut them down and easily blow nitrogen(or can of air not everybody has nitrogen) with the cover off to clear the sensing chamber.


Trimline
Premium
join:2004-10-24
Windermere, FL
Reviews:
·Vestalink
·Bright House Net..
·Callcentric
·voip.ms
reply to rds24a
You need to take a vacuum to them. I had this happen to me at 3 AM a few years ago. Since they are in the hall, seems they collect dust near their sensors. Simply take the end of the vac and suck out the dust.

When the clocks change, that's your reminder to do it again.
--
FWD#537129

The Antihero

join:2002-04-09
Enola, PA
reply to rds24a
The same thing happened to me a few times, and it was several of them doing it -- possibly all of them.

Mine are wired to the house as well, and I figured it was a powersurge. It's very rare that it happens, but it always seems to want to do it in the middle of the night when it does.

gizmopt2002

join:2004-09-10
Wauconda, IL
reply to rds24a
Are they older than 10 years? I know mine went after that, the didn't even freaking sound it was a crackle really.


rds24a
Teach Your Children
Premium
join:2000-12-13
Newton Upper Falls, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to rds24a
Well, it took me a day or two to get around to vaccuuming them, but after that one night of chaos it didn't happen again - before or after the vaccuuming. They are just under 5 years old. BRK 4120B 2002 (post-recall).
--
All hail JoePa


bjf123
We Want... A Shrubbery
Premium
join:2000-02-11
Hamilton, OH
reply to rds24a
I had the same thing happen in my less than 4 year old house. They're all hard wired with battery backup, so when one goes off, they all go off. Our local fire department said one of them was dirty and suggested using the can of compressed air you use on computers to clean them. When that didn't work, I tried the manufacturer's web site and like someone else mentioned, they recommended vacuuming the detectors. Unfortunately, that didn't work either. However, I did find out that the one that triggers the alarm will have a flashing red light recessed by the test button. Turned out to be the one in the master bedroom, which I've unplugged and removed the battery. I really need to get a replacement for it.
--
Golf is a relatively simple game, played by reasonably intelligent people, stupidly.|In a Roadster club?


cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

1 recommendation

reply to Trimline
said by Trimline:

You need to take a vacuum to them. I had this happen to me at 3 AM a few years ago. Since they are in the hall, seems they collect dust near their sensors. Simply take the end of the vac and suck out the dust.
Dust/dirt would be my first suspect as well depending on the detection type.

There are two styles of smoke detectors, ionization and photoelectric.

Ionization uses a small amount of radiation and an electric current to ionize oxygen and nitrogen atoms. These ions are drawn to electrical plates to create a small voltage. When smoke enters the detector, it attaches to the ions neutralizing them. Being neutral, they aren't drawn to teh electrical plates and don't produce a charge. The detector senses this and triggers the alarm.

Photoelectric sensors use light and a sensor. Here there are two main styles as well. The lesser used one works similar to a solar powered calculator. A light source is pointed at a photo cell. The detector knows how much light the sensor should pick up but when smoke enters the chamber, the light being passed is reduced. This triggers the alarm. The other style shines a beam across a sensor but not directly onto it. Only when smoke enters the chamber does the light get scattered and the sensor can pick up the beam. Then the alarm sounds. This is like the laser pointers you can buy in the store. You normally only see the red dot on the wall, but if you were to shine it through a smoke filled room you would see a tracer beam.

Ionization detectors are more sensitive to minute amounts of smoke and are cheaper. Photoelectric sensors take more to trigger the sensor but aren't as prone to cooking related false alarms. Both sensors are subject to steam and high humidity false alarms when water condenses on the sensors or electric plates. Photoelectric sensors also can be triggered by large amounts of dust or other particles in the air that might scatter the beam.

I use to work at a summer camp that had a smoke alarm system in the main residence building. About once a year we'd get a false alarm in the middle of the night that was caused by a whisp of a spider web entering the detection chamber and triggering an alarm. It was a PITA when it happened, but it's better to be safe then sorry.
--
Go Colts


dolphins
Clean Up Our Oceans
Premium
join:2001-08-22
Westville, NJ
kudos:7
reply to rds24a
My detectors also detect carbon monoxide in addition to smoke.

Just a thought!


Thespis
I'm not an actor, but I play one on TV.
Premium
join:2004-08-03
Keller, TX

1 edit
reply to cdru
quote:
Photoelectric sensors use light and a sensor.
LOL!
I learned about photoelectric sensors when we did a production of "Little Shop of Horrors". At the end of the play we wanted to drop vines from the beam (the cut in the ceiling over the audience where we hang lights) onto the audience. During rehearsals, we set off the sensors three times before the fire department educated us. They were very nice about it...
We also have problems with fog machines. Even though it has no particulate matter and won't affect ionization sensors, the fog sets off the photoelectric sensors. Fortunately, we're having a new system installed this summer and will be able to disable the sensors during rehearsals and performances that use fog (or vines ).


an idea

@rr.com
reply to rds24a
It's 3:00 AM here in Los Angeles.. Alarm went off briefly around midnight, and then again (longer, but less than a few seconds) now. Woke me up and scared the hell out of me. Opened up the fire alarm and a spider (larger) crawled right out (needless to say, again I was startled out of my mind). I don't know if this is it--they say you need to sweep out dust from these things...but if dust can do it, I'm guessing this ugly little guy could easily be to blame.


rds24a
Teach Your Children
Premium
join:2000-12-13
Newton Upper Falls, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

1 edit
reply to rds24a
So the latest addition to this saga was today during my kid's birthday party. Have all the family here...and one of the alarms started the low battery chirp. So I wander around with a stepladder and a 9-volt trying to figure out which one it is. I find the culprit and the battery door won't open. So I force it a little and it pops open and the battery comes flying out...I catch it..."Ow, Son of a B***h!!!" rings out through the house and everyone goes silent.

The battery was burning hot and had burst out the bottom end. A little googling and apparently this is normal if you don't use Eveready batteries. What was I thinking...using Duracell ?!?!?

EDIT: WTF? The smoke detector itself says "Replace only with Duracell"
--
All hail JoePa


Subaru
1-3-2-4
Premium
join:2001-05-31
Greenwich, CT
kudos:1
I think thats BS with the Duracell and Eveready batteries I've seen Duracells crack open.. matter of fact I had one the other day where the underside of it went and split open.


Keith F

@comcast.net
reply to rds24a
It's 5:30 AM here; AC-connected smoke alarms went off twice for about 3 seconds with maybe 15-20 minutes in between. The second time actually scared me more than the first, but I know I'm not going back to bed until I know they won't go off anymore. In the meantime, googling the problem took me here. I've got my compressed air ready to go if they go off again...


siouxie
I've got the Steel City Blues

join:2005-08-18
Ontario
reply to rds24a
Mine also went off several times a couple of days ago, the first two times just for a few seconds the 3rd time it kept going and going. Scared the **** out of me!

After checking the house from top to bottom I released the battery to stop it. It appears that the very high humidity we had that day was causing the problem, since the humidity has dropped it hasn't occurred again, thank goodness.

In either type of detector, steam or high humidity can lead to condensation on the circuit board and sensor, causing the alarm to sound. »chemistry.about.com/cs/howthings ··· 401a.htm
--
I have bad habits...


Transmaster
Don't Blame Me I Voted For Bill and Opus

join:2001-06-20
Cheyenne, WY

1 edit
your are not by any chance engorging yourself in this... Hmmm beans
--
Remember safe sex does not prevent crabs.


ffblackie
You called 911 for this?
Premium
join:2002-01-13
Knoxville, TN
reply to Keith F
Rather than mess with them anymore, I would make the trip to the HD or Lowes and replace them all.

Hardwire with battery backup = less than 20 each.

Sounds like you got a 'lemon' detector.


Warzau
Premium
join:2000-10-26
Naperville, IL
kudos:1
reply to rds24a
How old are the detectors?


rds24a
Teach Your Children
Premium
join:2000-12-13
Newton Upper Falls, MA
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
Mine are about 5 years. I'm in the middle of the complaint process with the CPSC...I contacted them after considering the number of complaints I've found about these detectors. Ultimately I'm going to get them all replaced, but I need to do some research on the system I want first.
--
All hail JoePa


Warzau
Premium
join:2000-10-26
Naperville, IL
kudos:1
reply to rds24a
It is still within the usable age. IIRC you should replace them after 10 years regardless. If you do replace them get the CO/Fire combo interconnected kind.


Daarken
Rara Avises
Premium
join:2005-01-12
Southwest LA
kudos:3
reply to rds24a
Your better off with a dedicated CO detector, then a combo.
--
www.pointofexistence.com