How To Deal With Nuisance Smoke Alarms
Whether you are a Homeowner or a Tenant, you have probably had that annoying Smoke Alarm sound off.
Now, if it is warning you of a real fire threat then this is a very welcoming sound indeed. However, most of us are thinking of what happens when the breakfast toast burns, or you open the oven door. That “nuisance” alarm.
There are several things you can do to protect you and your family from the risk of fire while reducing “nuisance” alarms. The reason it is important to reduce the occurrence of “nuisance” alarms is that you may become alarm “deaf”. If that occurs, and the alarm is sounding because of a real threat, you may just ignore it.
Then the problem with “nuisance” alarms is that they become like the story about the boy who cried wolf. Eventually you won’t believe the Smoke Alarm. And that could be deadly.
So if you have “nuisance” alarms on a regular basis, there are ways you can reduce them. Then by reducing them, when the Smoke Alarm does sound off, you will pay attention because it could be pointing out a real danger—fire!
The Hush Button
If the Smoke Alarm has gone off and you believe it is due to a cooking activity—use the hush button. The Smoke Alarm will “chirp” occasionally for a few minutes until it resets itself. Many makes of Smoke Alarms have the Hush Button feature.
However, if the risk of fire is real—even during the hush mode, the alarm will start to sound off again. So if it does that—pay attention and get everyone out of the house immediately.
Hush buttons are included on the Smoke Alarm to try and discourage you, either as a Homeowner, or a Tenant, from removing the batteries. Remember, this is a life saving device—and it is the law to have working Smoke Alarms. And if it is hard wired in, do not disconnect or turn off that power source either.
Fines for not having working Smoke Alarms range from $360 to $5,000.
Nuisance Alarms Because Of The Kitchen
There are several things that you can do to deal with the most common source of nuisance alarms – the kitchen.
- Clean your oven and stove top on a regular basis
- Use the exhaust fan over the stove when cooking
- Clean the crumbs out of your toaster. (The other day I cleaned a donated toaster. There was ¼ cup of crumbs inside it. No wonder it was smoking when I tested it. So clean the toaster.)
- Move the Smoke Alarm. Most often they are placed on the ceiling—try placing it high on the wall instead. Sometimes simply moving it to a slightly different location will reduce the number of nuisance alarms. Perhaps even around the corner in a hallway might help.
- If nuisance alarms continue, you may have to change the type of Smoke Alarm you currently have installed. Ionization Smoke Alarms don’t work well around the kitchen—they tend to have a higher number of nuisance alarms. Try a Photoelectric Smoke Alarm instead. Barry and I had to do that and it worked very well at reducing the number of nuisance alarms.
Nuisance Alarms Because Of The Bathroom
The second area of your home that can be a source of nuisance alarms is the bathroom. Unlike the kitchen where cooking foods can be the source of the alarm, the bathroom has a problem with humidity levels.
There are a few things that you can do to reduce the amount of nuisance alarms by the bathroom.
- Use the exhaust fan to remove excess humidity from the air. Make sure to turn it on either during or immediately following a shower.
- If using the exhaust fan isn’t enough, use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity levels.
- Get a small humidity level detector. Learn what humidity levels are most likely to set off the nuisance alarm. Then you can try to keep the humidity levels below that number.
- As with the kitchen, you may need to just move the location of the Smoke Alarm. Around a corner, on the ceiling, or on the wall. Sometimes it is a simple solution.
- If nuisance alarms persist, you may need to swap out the Ionization Smoke Alarm for a Photoelectric Smoke Alarm in this location as well.
The Smoke Alarm Keeps Chirping
If the Smoke Alarm is starting to “chirp” every few minutes, this is not a nuisance alarm. However, it is sending you an important message.
The first thing it could be indicating is that the battery needs to be replaced. So buy a new battery and replace it. Do not remove the “chirping” battery until you can put a new one in the Smoke Alarm. Even though your Smoke Alarm is chirping it is still capable of setting off an alarm if the risk of fire is happening.
Just be aware that a “chirping” dying battery will be dead within a few days. So, when you hear the “chirp” make sure you get a new battery as soon as possible.
The second thing that a chirping smoke alarm might be trying to tell you is that it is becoming defective. How old is your smoke alarm? You need to replace your smoke alarm every 10 years, however, they can stop working properly before that time. Especially if it has been continually set off by nuisance alarms.
So Deal With Those Nuisance Alarms
You now know several things that you can do to reduce the number of nuisance alarms. Remember, Smoke Alarms must be in working order—that is the law! So if you are being harassed by nuisance noise, make some small changes.
Then you can rest assured that the next time you hear the Smoke Alarm go off, that it will be warning your family of a real danger, not burnt toast.