Stupid Smoke Detectors

I really don’t mean that as they are invaluable part of home safety, but after a frustrating night like last night, it sure felt like it.

In the evening, one of our smoke detectors started beeping every few minutes. Then a couple of more started beeping. Since all the detectors are wired together such that if one goes off, they all go off, that is not really surprising. This usually means one of two things. Either the battery is low or it’s time for a system test.

I had never heard of the latter until moving into this house about four years ago. Sure enough, we periodically have to test all the detectors or they will start beeping. Periodically is about a year, so it’s not too obtrusive. After we pushed the test button on the detectors, and let them test themselves, sure enough the beeping stopped. Until after we were in bed.

Around 11:00 pm, the beeping started again, this time from one unit in particular. Argh, the battery must be going. I went and got the ladder out again to replace the battery. Of course, I couldn’t find one. Suzanne managed to find a somewhat used battery that I replaced for the old one. Again, the beeping stopped – just long enough for us to get back into bed and get comfortable.

Not very happy at the moment, I decided it was just time to remove the detector from the ceiling until we could get some new batteries. I wasn’t too worried about the detector being removed as it was a hallway detector, but thanks to building codes, three was another 3 detectors within 5 feet of this one. I got back up on the ladder, unplugged and removed the detector and set it on a window sill. Silence again.

I climbed back into bed, but was only there for about 10 minutes before the beeping began once again. It became apparent, that in my half asleep state, though I had taken down the smoke detector from ceiling, when I put it on the window sill, I neglected to remove the battery. So now it was beeping again.

I removed the battery and headed back to bed. As soon as I laid down, the smoke detector beeped again. Nice and mad now, I hopped out again and went over to the detector as it beeped again. As I was contemplating which trash bin to throw it into, it gave one last dying beep as it faded away. Evidently, it had built up enough of a capacitance charge for a few last beeps before going silent.

This whole affair took some time and robbed us of some nice sleep. Had it been the middle of the day, this would have been a non-issue and everything would have been a whole lot more clearer and handled quite quickly. But then, what fun would that have been?


  1. Wow, what an ordeal! I guess if it had happened to me, it wouldn’t be quite as funny :)! FYI, if it is not the battery, it is possible that there is dust inside the unit that is making it trip. Quite some time ago, I had one in base housing that wouldn’t stop so the base fire department came out and used an air can to blow around the sensor. Afterwards, it worked fine.

  2. It didnt seem funny at night either ๐Ÿ˜‰ though I can look back and laugh at it now… Suzanne put a new battery in it yesterday afternoon and all is well now… have to remember the air can thing though…

  3. I’ve had a similar experience, and it is not funny. Although I thought your story was. Now when I hear beeping, it is usually my purse and my cell phone letting me know its battery is low.

  4. Grammarian says

    “As soon as I laid down”

    You mean: “As soon as I lay down”

    The past tense of “to lie” (as in “to lie down”) is “lay”. The past tense of “to lay” (as in “to lay the book down”) is “laid”.

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