I have a smoke alarm in my house that beeps at night, in the middle of the
night. When this starts, it beeps about 8 or 10 times, then stops, and then
starts doing this again about 5 to 10 minutes later. It started doing this
2 nights ago. Both nights I ended up cutting off the power into my house so
I could get a good night's sleep.
This only happens at night, and does not happen during the day.
I opened up the smoke alarm this morning, and found that it is the kind that
is wired directly into the house wiring--it does not have a separate battery
of any kind, nor a place for one that I can see.
Could power spikes/fluctuations in the middle of the night cause the smoke
alarm to go off? That's the only thing I can think of.
Lastly, my house is still standing, and I don't smell any burning in my
house. The smoke alarm is located on the second floor of my house, in the
hallway, opposite my master bedroom--so it is far away from anything in the
house that could have any residual *burning* smell, such as the oven/stove
in my kitchen.
Thanks in advance for your help. Hopefully I won't have to cut the power
into my house every nite to keep this from happening in the future.
Jean in VA
Maybe a dirt on the sensor and a change in humidity at night, try
blowing or vacume it clean.
Battery backup? maybe its low cycle is coincindently at night .
Defective unit , cause ?
A dead relative trying to contact you and keep you from sleeping, or
Having a battery only back up is always good measure.
Opposite your bedroom, you say?
Surely you've heard this old saw:
He: "Do you smoke after sex?"
She: "Dunno--I never looked."
Well, if it starts beeping annoyingly during the day, your method will
sure certainly your electrical bill!
Seriously (and knowing nothing about such technology), if there's no
battery that could be run down, I'd just replace the alarm.
And lastly, it's a rare day that I find someone on Usenet that knows
when and how to use a dash--I think I love you! :-)
~John W. Wells
Try cleaning it with canned air, like what they use to blow out computers.
Do not use isopropyl alcohol on the sensor, isopropyl has water in it.
An dry Q-tip would work, pretend it is your eye, gently.
In higher humidity times the eye can get fooled. What does your a/c filter
Floaties in the air might cause this.
Then again it could be broken and time for an new one.
Like I mentioned in my first post, I can't see a battery of any kind in the
unit anywhere--I think it is wired directly into the wiring in the wall. If
there *is* a battery in it, I can't see it.
I wasn't aware that smoke alarms *wear out* and need to be replaced
periodically. I thought only the batteries (if it has one) required
Jean in VA
Most if not all do have a battery, even when they are connected to the
It would seem they do. In any case if it is really old, I would
recommend replacing it anyway. The newer ones are better. BTW if it does
not have a battery backup, then replacing it would give you a chance to
replace it with one that does have a battery backup. Fires often accompany
a power loss.
If you only have the one unit and there is no battery compartment visible at
the BACK of the unit then yours does not have a battery back-up, is most
likely ready for replacement and you should consider replacing with a
battery back-up style unit. Of course the replacing can be done with no help
IF you can find the exact same unit. You would just unplug the old and plug
in the new.
The symptoms you describe are typical for a unit that has a weak battery and
replacing all the batteries at the same time typically solves the problem.
It is also typical for a unit that has experienced a dust build-up and the
compressed air clean out may work.
I have never seen the unit described by another poster which has a remote
battery. My experience is mostly with the Firex brand. There unit has 3
wires. White, black and yellow to allow the multiple units to be
inter-connected. I would think that a remote battery unit would need at
least two more low voltage wires to power the back-up feature.
'Wear out' might not be the correct term, but they do lose their
effectivness. I'm not sure how long ago (hasn't been long), a 10-year life
span was placed on smoke detectors. It is recommended that they be replaced
at that time.
Several years ago, manufactures started making low voltage-type detectors.
If yours is more then a few years old, then you can not just buy a
replacement and plug it in (provided the plugs are the same. There is no
standardization). If you do, you will burn up the new one.
Your best bet would to look at yours and find the manufactures name, then
find out what they have that is compatable. I do know that FireX makes a
direct replacement for there older units. And, to be on the safe side,
please get one that has a battery back-up, and use a 10-year battery in it.
Larry (also in VA)
Smoke detectors use a teeny bit of radioactive material (Americium) to
ionize the air flowing over a sensor. Americium decays over time an becomes
less energetic. The half-life of Americium-241 is approximately 430 years,
so, if your house is about that old....
Max recommended period is 10 years, & thats on assumption
are vacuumed fairly regularly.
The US NFPA published paper on this some years ago.
After that time the MTBF[Engineers speak] ratios will become too high as
to be unacceptable;
and of course by then they'll be
1/cheaper than before
2/have more features
3/probably be smaller!
Follow maintenance instructions in your alarm manual
for a long trouble free life.
If you dispose of it correctly, it goes to a hazardous waste disposal
Nope, only ionization-based detectors. Photoelectric detectors don't
have any radioactive material in them.
Sounds like paranoia to me. The danger posed by the radiation from a
smoke detector is miniscule, even if you take the detector apart and
swallow the radioactive material.
Some background: http://www.epa.gov/radiation/sources/smoke_alarm.htm:
"As long as the radiation source stays in the detector, exposures would
be negligible (less than about 1/100 of a millirem per year), since alpha
particles cannot travel very far or penetrate even a single sheet of
paper, and the gamma rays emitted by americium are relatively weak."
And from the Aussies (http://www.uic.com.au/nip35.htm ):
"The radiation dose to the occupants of a house from a domestic smoke
detector is essentially zero, and in any case very much less than that
from natural background radiation. The small amount of radioactive
material that is used in these detectors is not a health hazard. On the
other hand, the ability of domestic smoke detectors to save life and
property has been demonstrated in many house fires."
What's more likely to be a danger to you - a tiny bit of radioactive
material in a smoke detector, or a fire in your house?
I'm sure that people who die in house fires also have that equipment.
For some reason, it doesn't seem to work as well as a smoke detector
mounted to the wall.
Yup, sounds like paranoia to me.
Unfortunately, the American government hasn't discovered a way to outlaw
George Wenzel, B.A. (Criminology)
<< > Unfortunately, the American government hasn't discovered a way to outlaw
The right to be stupid is guarantied by the Constitution unfortunately the
same fools are also allowed to vote.
What in hell does this have to do with a malfunctioning smoke alarm?
I had a similar problem except it only whooped when I washed my hair. Turned
out this was an outmoded smoke alarm I hadn't noticed when I bought the house,
and it read "steam" as "smoke." I had it removed and that was that--the up to
date alarms never have given me trouble.
All smoke alarms are dumb & can't differentiate between smoke + steam.
Its why in UK only fixed point Heat Alarms are allowed in Kitchen.
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