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Smoke Detector Sounds

Problem: Smoke detector goes off or chirps when no fire or smoke is present.

Background: Smoke detectors that make a loud continuous sound,
when the test button has not been pushed, have sensed smoke or combustion particles n the air. The alarm horn is a warning of a possibly serious situation and requires your immediate attention. (See Fire Inside Home) Although detectors offer invaluable protection, they can also make noise when no emergency exists. This may be due to improper installation, low batteries, or dust build-up.

What to do: If detectors are inter connected, check all installation locations for smoke or fire. If the detector beeps about once a minute, it may be signalling that the unit’s battery is weak and needs replacement. Replace with new battery immediately. If the detector is hard- wired (connected to the home’s electrical system), check for smoke or fire in all locations. If none exist, turn off the circuit breaker that controls the alarm and check the detectors. Dirt and dust can build up on the unit’s sensing chamber, making it overly sensitive. After batteries are removed, or the power has been shut off, the sensing chamber can be cleaned with a soft brush vacuum attachment; detector covers can be washed by hand using a damp cloth and dried with a lint-free cloth. Re place batteries, or turn power back on, and test unit for operation.

Special advice: Often alarms that are a nuisance result from improper installation. Ideally, detectors should be installed at least 20 feet away from areas where combustion particles (by-products of burning)
are present. These areas may include: kitchens with few windows or poor ventilation; garages where there may be vehicle exhaust; any where near furnaces, hot water heaters, or space heaters. Keep detectors 10 feet away from bathrooms, where condensation can activate alarms, and at least 5 feet away from fluorescent lights, where electrical noise can cause detectors to sound. Insects crawling into a detector’s sensing chamber can also cause false alarms. Check the owner’s manual or instruction sheet for other areas to avoid, including those where air streams are present, and areas that are damp, cold, hot, drafty, or dusty.

Helpful hint: Only temporarily disconnect a hard-wired detector or remove batteries from a battery-operated detector to stop an annoying alarm. Manufacturers recommend units be tested weekly by pushing on the test button until horn sounds. (Don’t use an open flame to test a detector or “aerosol” spray smoke detector testers. flames may dam age the unit and chemicals can change the unit’s sensitivity or imp air its function.) If a unit fails to test properly, have it repaired by the manufacturer or replace it. Batteries should be replaced with recommended types annually, or sooner if a unit beeps. Detectors that are more than 10 years old should be re placed.

 

 

 

The Home Repair Guide


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