Those smoke detectors again!

Dammit! It happened again. I have written several posts about the dog gone smoke alarms going off in the middle of the night. It’s terrifying. There has never been a fire. Sometimes we get the rhythmic beeping (or throbbing) that a new battery is needed. Some have been a full out alarm that should signify a fire or at least smoke.

It usually goes off between 3 and 4 a.m. Last week we were lucky (sort of). It waited until 5:30. It was still dark. It was a full alarm. I almost had a heart attack. There was a herd of cats galloping to get under the bed. Had there been a fire, I’m not sure how quick I would have been and with all that racket there would be no chance of rescuing the cats.

By code we are required to have 5  second floor alarms (bedrooms and hallway). In our house it works out that all of them are installed within a 10 foot radius. There are no long hallways. Just a landing and each bedroom is off the landing which puts this incredible number of whining sirens so close that it could kill a person from fright.

When one goes off, they all do. A battery went bad on this last round so they all went off on full alarm. It was louder than a rock band on acid. I am convinced I suffered hearing loss.

The cats were terrified. It took hours before the cats would come out from under the bed. The offending alarm was located in the cat bedroom so they were not keen on entering that room either.

I am a fan of safety. I am also a fan of logic and reason. We cannot alter the alarms or remove any as it would void our homeowners’ insurance. I really don’t need 5 alarms situated 15’ from my bed. I am not that hearing impaired. Even with a bedroom door closed you can hear it very well.

The beloved husband was already up when it happened so he was quick to act. (Had he been sleeping, the entire system would be on the front lawn and he’s the one with patience!) We have no idea why it didn’t just chirp for a new battery. By the way, the battery was 13 months old. It has an electrical connection so I’m not sure what eats up the battery.

My suggestion is to install Siri (or Alexa) in it and have her chirp “new battery please!” That would work for us. We don’t need the skull splitting noise.

The good news (?) is that it happened when we were home so the cats didn’t have to endure the ear splitting noise for long. (We still don’t have an exit plan for getting the cats out.) The other good news is that it was all in vain. No smoke, no fire. Just sheer terror.

Here is my post from the last time this happened!

 

74 thoughts on “Those smoke detectors again!

  1. Wow! Never heard of such problems. We have two alarms at opposite sides of the house – and one can go off at a time. Neither has ever gone off in 30 years. When the batteries are low we get an annoying little chirp that waits a few minutes before chirping again. It happens so infrequently we forget what the chirp is for and wind up pacing the house to find where the little noise is coming from. Waking up to a real wail would have me running out of the house with the dog and maybe Bill too (just kidding), convinced we would be on fire.

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    • I’ve never had issues (except for the chirping battery reminder) in other houses. This house was subject to new codes that for our house are ridiculous! We’ve had it wail without smoke/fire before. We’ve had incessant chirping where we had trouble figuring out which one it was. (Current system has a light.) For our standard 4 bedroom house we have 7 detectors. Way too many.

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      • 7 detectors surely sounds like overkill….especially when they go off for no reason and in the middle of the night. Maybe a threat to report the company to the Better Business Bureau unless it is fixed might get some attention?

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        • It’s code locally. There must be one on an upstairs landing and in each bedroom even if that positions them within 10′ of each other. As going off, we researched replacements and it seems to happen with a lot of them or maybe only the disgruntled customers write reviews!

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  2. I would not be surprised if a sudden alarm sounding in the middle of the night has caused heart attacks – we just never hear the “real story’ in the police reports. Your experience has happened to me, and that sound is beyond deafening. One time it happened when my guy and I were in our small condo overlooking the SF Bay. At 3 in the morning. My guy and I jumped up in our bed so high and hard it’s amazing we didn’t hit the ceiling. I thought it was a siren for a nuclear attack. I like your Alexa/Siri idea – makes a darn lot of sense.

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  3. Yikes, that sounds horrendous! It brought to mind my concerns when we viewed into our new place after being told that our alarm is electrically powered. I house-sat for a friend once and her similar alarm chirruped over a weekend as I couldn’t figure out how to stop it. Mind you, she couldn’t either & had to call an electrician. The same stay, her water desalination alarm (I know, go figure) went off all, but I’d learned about that one during my previous stay! I’ve no idea who does her house sitting now, but I wonder if they’ve experiencing the same issues 🙂 I hope the cats have recovered.

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  4. I feel like we have teched our way past usefulness with home fire alarms. Little individual fire alarms with their own batteries were certainly annoying when they chirped for new batteries, but this is crazy!
    We had a similar stupidity at work a year or two ago. It was a chirp but no one could turn it off. It was the craziest damn thing. Owner came in on a Sunday, pulled out manuals, couldn’t fix it. Calls were made to the company that made it, electricians were brought in on a Sunday. One of the managers fell of a ladder trying to figure out where the damn beep was coming from.
    Finally the owner asked his son in law, a fireman, to come in. SIL walked into the room. Stood a moment, said it wasn’t the main fire alarm system, leaned over and pulled out a co2 detector plugged in under a desk.
    I assume the beeping stopped when the owner threw the damn thing in a dumpster. But I prefer to think it’s still beeping in the garbage dump.

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  5. I’ve never known of an alarm system where one triggers all, Kate, and that really is an overabundance of caution! I would be freaked out, too! You are so right about it being a good thing that you were home at the time. The extremes of the blast of sound could have harmed the cats, I’d think. This is quite a dilemma! 😦

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  6. Good God, Kate!! That is just a horrible thing to wake up to!

    It makes zero sense to me that an alarm is required by every bedroom – we’re not talking a hotel here. This is a private residence. Our code is one on each floor although we have 2 in the basement – one in the furnace room and another by the stairs. That’s plenty when these batteries start to go wild!

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    • This is the first time that I can remember getting the full on siren. Normally we get the annoying chirping (translation: Mama needs a new battery!) but annoys the cats a lot. I wanted to follow them under the bed but I don’t fit.

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  7. What is it – all the darn things know when it’s about Oct and they all scheme to go off at the same time – just to emphasize “Fire Safety Month” to those of us who no longer have any connections to those safety campaigns in schools?
    I fretted a good part of last week at Person’s house worry that one of those was blinking a red signal and readying to shrilly shriek when we were least ready. It didn’t happen, …this time. …
    Head staff here replace our home ones with ones that send signals to cell phone if it goes off….yes, it works…we had to drive home like crazy a few weeks ago because one said “Smoke detected”. …for a few minutes then it stopped..but we had to drive home like crazy. there was nothing wrong, but the company decided it was defective and sent a newer updated version (that makes me feel really good about the other ones…)
    We know Molly would go through windows if necessary to get away from the sound…you know, the house we can spare, but not the pups. RC just folds her ears in and dives under cover in a hole somewhere. So not a fun time.
    Hope yours have been soothed into submission and are sleeping silently and cooperatively

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    • Remember when we were in grade school and we had fire drills? The nuns would be “Stay calm. Keep quiet. March in a straight line.” Can you imagine sirens going off with 150 kids freaked out? I need a detector with a calm voice saying “Dude! Get out or you’re toast” in a loud enough (but not overly loud) voice. I’m sure we could come up with some better alternatives.

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  8. That is so maddening! I really feel for you getting woken up like that. Guess what we did today? We had our smoke detectors replaced with brand new ones by the electrician. We are trying to stay ahead of the game so they don’t cause trouble down the road.

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  9. At my crib, it always happens between 1:30 to 2 A.M. and leaves me far too amped up to try calming down two freaked out doggos, whilst holding my ears until I find a bat to shut the damn thing off. There’s never any getting back to sleep once I’ve managed to quiet the stupid offending alarm. The procedure is a lot like a Marx Brothers film. Chaos and crazy running around finding (a) a fresh battery) and (b) a stool tall enough to reach without falling off. Oi!

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    • You are lucky. Our code requirements are different for bedrooms. We change the batteries too although this one was overdue (but only by a month). You are lucky. I never had issues with smoke detectors until I moved to this house.

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  10. Holy Cow! You’re right, you’d think they’d have a different, less invasive noise as a warning about the battery. Sheesh! We had one go off recently, a few times, but it was during the day. Max (the dog) is not afraid of anything (not thunder or fireworks either), but that alarm scared the fur off of him. We had one that plugged into the wall, so I don’t know why it went off. There was no fire or smoke. After the third time, we bought battery alarms for the ceiling. Unfortunately, if those go off, they’re more difficult to get at then the plugin.

    Hope the kitties are all back to their usual-selves again.

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  11. LOL we just had a chirper too. Fortunately it was early enough in the evening so that we could identify it (our bedroom) and change the battery before it got mad and did the full screech. Totally feel for you (and the cats). Not sure how our dog would react since it hasn’t happened with him here.

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  12. We had this happen recently, too. No warning, it just went off as if there was a fire. We have 10 or 12 detectors and after that night/early morning, we replaced all of the existing batteries with ones that have a 5 year life. Hopefully by that time we’ll regain our hearing.

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  13. Ours went off in the early am just this weekend. The worst part is that we had houseguests and, of course, it woke them up too. No fire, new-ish batteries. The alarms are still pulled from the ceilings… I’m sure we should put them back, but the thought of waking up to that gawd-awful sound again is making us hesitate.

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  14. Wow, that’s excessive alarming in more ways than one IMO. 5 in close proximity? Crikey.
    I think it’s recommended you have one in every room but not compulsory as long as you have at least one on each floor.
    We have an electrically connected alarm in the hall (the first time it went off scared us all to death so I am more careful when using the toaster now as Maggie bolts), a battery one in the smallest bedroom and a carbon monoxide one in the boiler cupboard where, oh yeah, the boiler is and thus any gas emissions may be. We had our boiler serviced today, and as always, he checked our alarms as well as our gas supply.

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    • We are required to have one in each bedroom and in the upstairs hallway. With our house design, they are all too close. We have one on the first floor and one in the basement. The concern is for sleeping people. No way you can sleep with those alarms. When I didn’t have a new house (so wasn’t subject to code) I had one on each floor and that worked. Smaller house too.

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  15. I love the image at the top! Can totally relate. At least if we know there is a fire and the alarm sounds the cats will all be under the bed. Not sure I could flip the king bed out of the way to get to them if my cat(s) needed out of the house. I hate the all hooked together thing. Ours are smoke/fire/co2 and we now after several rude alarms have a reoccurring note on the calendar to change all batteries once per year regardless of chirp. We have a bedroom that I use for an office near the kitchen. I’m not a cook/ Need I saw more? BTW I did install a natural gas detector since I can’t smell and would never be alerted to the rotten egg smell. It’s by our gas stove. It has never gone off even when it takes a while for the stove to light sometimes. Hubby has smelled the gas smell but the alarm has never went off. Either it has to be a higher concentration of I’ve put my reassurance in something that doesn’t work.?

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  16. The noise from those alarms is horrible. I cannot imagine how hearing it for hours would warp a cat’s brain. I have no suggestions about how to solve this ongoing problem but it does make me wonder if there are newer alarms that have a better attitude– so to speak. Going to look into that.

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    • We ripped out the original system and replaced it about 2 years ago. This was supposed to be so much better and maybe it is. This should have chirped instead of wail. Not happy. They need to come up with something better without the false alarms. Also, if it’s electrically wired, why did it wail for a battery?

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  17. Hahal Too funny. I feel your pain Kate.When one goes off my brain chemistry is altered and my behavior becomes erratic and useless. I smack at it, hitting the buttons in panic. After the last time I took a marker & drew a little arrow toward the button I’m SUPPOSED to push to MAKE IT STOP. Haven’t had the opportunity to see if that helps but the day is coming…

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  18. One malfunctioning alarm is bad. Five that have the potential to sound? Unbelievably bad.
    Here’s what I would do. Install them, as per code. Then cover the sensing portal with a wad of chewing gum on four of the five. I know this alters them and is against code, but you can always remove before the inspector arrives – if and when that might happen.

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  19. I hate this creatures from hell… we bought ne ones (battery included) not even one week and they all screamed like banshees… hate them…. really hate them … absolutely really hate them… maybe it counts when I glue a firefighter poster on my ceilings? the look would be better …

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