Author Topic: Smoke Detector Troubles  (Read 1671 times)

BrooklineBiker

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Smoke Detector Troubles
« on: August 09, 2020, 03:42:26 PM »
Hi all,
Our house's smoke detectors are a major frustration. We're wondering whether they should be replaced and if this is a DIY that amateurs can handle. They are First Alerts, some of which are from 2012 and some others that appear to be older. Oddly, the older ones work passably but the newer ones are bad: they go off when people shower and they seem to require new batteries every few months or endlessly sound new battery warnings even when fresh batteries have been provided. How we should we proceed? If we need to replace them what brand/model would be reliable and not eat batteries? Any models that don't go off when people shower?





vector

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2020, 04:08:37 PM »
We have Kidde and no issues with them. All will require batteries every once in a while, we replace them yearly or so when they start chirping. There are also more expensive models with built-in batteries guaranteed for 10 years.

Btw, do you have one in the bathroom? Never seen one there... Humidity may be an issue for both battery life and unreliability. Anyway, there are 2 types of alarms, optical or with ionization. You can try the other type if you have an issue with them going off while showering.

They are pretty cheap and it's an easy DIY process, usually 2 screws. Youtube is your friend. If you live in a condo you may have special rules, no idea. Also, where I live it's mandatory that one of the alarms in the house is hardwired.

V

Sibley

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2020, 04:51:37 PM »
Smoke detectors generally have a lifespan, around 10 years I believe. You probably need to replace all of them. Don't forget carbon monoxide detectors when you do it.

I think mine are all Kidde. No issues aside from routine battery replacement.

Igelfreundin

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2020, 07:07:43 PM »
When my smoke detectors started beeping at random times (and I knew the batteries were good), I replaced them all, because I had also heard the ten-year-lifespan advice. That solved the problem. They are very easy to replace if they are battery operated, just a few screws to attach a new bracket.

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Papa bear

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #4 on: August 10, 2020, 07:33:37 AM »
They started making smoke detectors / fire alarms that have internal lithium batteries. They last 10 years with no battery changes.  In fact, you canít take out the battery.  Iíve switched to those at my house and all the rentals.  Now tenants canít take out the batteries and leave little plastic worthless boxes on their ceilings. 


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thedigitalone

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2020, 10:12:11 AM »
If you have a combo smoke/CO detector the max lifespan is between 5-7 years and the modern ones will start alerting with a single *BEEP* until they are replaced.

Ask me how I know :)

StashingAway

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #6 on: August 10, 2020, 10:17:18 AM »
Btw, do you have one in the bathroom? Never seen one there... Humidity may be an issue for both battery life and unreliability.

+1, definitely not to code in the bathroom.

And if the bathroom is setting it off from outside, methinks you have some bathroom ventilation issues.

SunnyDays

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2020, 10:29:44 AM »
I've had Garrison for many years with no trouble.

Ecky

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2020, 10:32:10 AM »

BrooklineBiker

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #9 on: August 10, 2020, 12:28:52 PM »
Thanks everybody!

Just Joe

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2020, 08:36:10 AM »
Btw, do you have one in the bathroom? Never seen one there... Humidity may be an issue for both battery life and unreliability.

+1, definitely not to code in the bathroom.

And if the bathroom is setting it off from outside, methinks you have some bathroom ventilation issues.

We had a smoke alarm in a short hallway outside a bathroom between two bedrooms. If one of our teenagers took a long steamy shower without the fan - when they opened the door, sometimes the smoke alarm would be triggered.

s0198362

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2020, 10:39:45 AM »
Some local ordinance codes try to make you have hard wired ones.  I did that job myself and itís pretty easy if you can access the ceiling.  Just need a length of 14/3 romex cable and the right alarm, and a 15amp circuit to tie them into.

Our city tried to have a fire fee added to taxes and the above requirement would have got a discount off that fee.  I did it then the city reversed their fire fee decision.  So, I spent some
Money, but do feel safer.  Smoke alarm in each bedroom
And a CO/smoke combo outside the bedrooms, all tied together with one on the wall downstairs outside my kitchen.  If one goes off now, all go off.

StashingAway

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2020, 01:29:12 PM »
Btw, do you have one in the bathroom? Never seen one there... Humidity may be an issue for both battery life and unreliability.

+1, definitely not to code in the bathroom.

And if the bathroom is setting it off from outside, methinks you have some bathroom ventilation issues.

We had a smoke alarm in a short hallway outside a bathroom between two bedrooms. If one of our teenagers took a long steamy shower without the fan - when they opened the door, sometimes the smoke alarm would be triggered.

Yep, I can see it happening; that falls under "ventilation issue" for me. In this type of scenario I'd get a fan on a timer or a humidity sensing one so that the bathroom isn't subject to so much contained moisture.

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2020, 01:50:31 PM »
Where my rental is located, the town changed the rental regulations to require all new smoke detectors to be the 10-year battery kind. The 10 year battery ones only run about $12 each, while the regular battery ones are about $5, so even without the regulations it probably would have been a good idea to start using the 10-year kind.

StashingAway

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2020, 02:36:53 PM »
Some local ordinance codes try to make you have hard wired ones.  I did that job myself and itís pretty easy if you can access the ceiling.  Just need a length of 14/3 romex cable and the right alarm, and a 15amp circuit to tie them into.


Our ordnance allows digitally connected ones in place of this regulation. They're quite a bit more expensive (and presumably kill batteries more frequently), but cheaper than hiring an electrician.

Shane

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #15 on: August 14, 2020, 03:00:10 PM »
@Stashing Away , your experience with smoke detectors may vary based on the climate where you live. If it's really humid, smoke detectors may be more problematic. Twenty years ago, we built a brand new house in a very humid part of the country. Codes required that we have half a dozen, or so, hardwired smoke detectors in various parts of the house. After many, many sleepless nights wandering around the house in pajamas, searching out randomly beeping smoke detectors, we finally disabled all of them. It was just too frustrating to deal with the continual, and seemingly random false alarms, which usually came in the middle of the night, almost always when it was raining hard and RH was at, or near, 100%. Talking with neighbors in our old neighborhood, pretty much everyone experienced the same frustrations with various brands of smoke alarms. We didn't know anyone whose smoke alarms actually functioned properly in that climate. It may be that modern smoke alarms have been designed to overcome the problems we experienced. We're living in a different, much older, house now. The smoke alarms in this house are all old and disabled. Thinking of getting new ones, but we're still kind of suffering from PTSD from the previous house, so a little reluctant. Maybe we're ready to give them a try, again, though, as it's a lot less humid where we're living now and, hopefully, the technology has improved.

Sibley

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2020, 03:17:48 PM »
@Stashing Away , your experience with smoke detectors may vary based on the climate where you live. If it's really humid, smoke detectors may be more problematic. Twenty years ago, we built a brand new house in a very humid part of the country. Codes required that we have half a dozen, or so, hardwired smoke detectors in various parts of the house. After many, many sleepless nights wandering around the house in pajamas, searching out randomly beeping smoke detectors, we finally disabled all of them. It was just too frustrating to deal with the continual, and seemingly random false alarms, which usually came in the middle of the night, almost always when it was raining hard and RH was at, or near, 100%. Talking with neighbors in our old neighborhood, pretty much everyone experienced the same frustrations with various brands of smoke alarms. We didn't know anyone whose smoke alarms actually functioned properly in that climate. It may be that modern smoke alarms have been designed to overcome the problems we experienced. We're living in a different, much older, house now. The smoke alarms in this house are all old and disabled. Thinking of getting new ones, but we're still kind of suffering from PTSD from the previous house, so a little reluctant. Maybe we're ready to give them a try, again, though, as it's a lot less humid where we're living now and, hopefully, the technology has improved.

Go get new smoke detectors. Because otherwise, when the fire starts in the middle of the night, you will be dead. And don't forget CO detectors.

moneypitfeeder

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2020, 07:22:38 PM »
We replaced our smoke detectors with combo smoke/co2 alarms from Nest. I have to say I  don't think I would go with them again, huge up-front cost and limited life due to the co2 alarm. We had First Alert wireless talking, interconnected alarms before (we have a 3-story house and knowing where an alert is and hearing an alarm throughout is important) and I think we will likely go back to those after our current ones time out. They still have a limited life due to the co2, but are much more affordable. I got the nests thinking that if something happened when we weren't at home, the app would alert my phone, and we could have neighbors or authorities get our pets out in time. But now, I am not traveling for work ever and we aren't doing day trips and will be retired in 4 (ish) months, so the Nest seems unnecessary. The First Alerts were an earlier model of these https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B000YC535Q?tag=amz-mkt-chr-us-20&ascsubtag=1ba00-01000-s1060-mac00-other-smile-us000-pcomp-feature-scomp-wm-5&ref=aa_scomp

StashingAway

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2020, 11:19:55 AM »
@Stashing Away , your experience with smoke detectors may vary based on the climate where you live. If it's really humid, smoke detectors may be more problematic. Twenty years ago, we built a brand new house in a very humid part of the country. Codes required that we have half a dozen, or so, hardwired smoke detectors in various parts of the house. After many, many sleepless nights wandering around the house in pajamas, searching out randomly beeping smoke detectors, we finally disabled all of them. It was just too frustrating to deal with the continual, and seemingly random false alarms, which usually came in the middle of the night, almost always when it was raining hard and RH was at, or near, 100%. Talking with neighbors in our old neighborhood, pretty much everyone experienced the same frustrations with various brands of smoke alarms. We didn't know anyone whose smoke alarms actually functioned properly in that climate. It may be that modern smoke alarms have been designed to overcome the problems we experienced. We're living in a different, much older, house now.

Again (not to sound negative, but just from a building science perspective), this is a ventilation/ air quality issue. A 20 year old house should not be mismanaging humidity so much that it is setting off smoke alarms during a rainstorm. At least in principle- I don't doubt that you and your neighbors had this problem. If you have that much humidity constantly I can guarantee you are growing mold in many places that you don't want. Getting a dehumidifier solves many problems in a climate like this, many of which will improve your health. I don't speak from direct experience in the humid south, so grain of salt, but I do spend a lot of time on building science.

Shane

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2020, 07:37:05 PM »
@Stashing Away , your experience with smoke detectors may vary based on the climate where you live. If it's really humid, smoke detectors may be more problematic. Twenty years ago, we built a brand new house in a very humid part of the country. Codes required that we have half a dozen, or so, hardwired smoke detectors in various parts of the house. After many, many sleepless nights wandering around the house in pajamas, searching out randomly beeping smoke detectors, we finally disabled all of them. It was just too frustrating to deal with the continual, and seemingly random false alarms, which usually came in the middle of the night, almost always when it was raining hard and RH was at, or near, 100%. Talking with neighbors in our old neighborhood, pretty much everyone experienced the same frustrations with various brands of smoke alarms. We didn't know anyone whose smoke alarms actually functioned properly in that climate. It may be that modern smoke alarms have been designed to overcome the problems we experienced. We're living in a different, much older, house now.

Again (not to sound negative, but just from a building science perspective), this is a ventilation/ air quality issue. A 20 year old house should not be mismanaging humidity so much that it is setting off smoke alarms during a rainstorm. At least in principle- I don't doubt that you and your neighbors had this problem. If you have that much humidity constantly I can guarantee you are growing mold in many places that you don't want. Getting a dehumidifier solves many problems in a climate like this, many of which will improve your health. I don't speak from direct experience in the humid south, so grain of salt, but I do spend a lot of time on building science.

We were living in a part of Hawaii that gets an average of 150' of rain a year. About 3/4 of the precipitation comes between sunset and sunrise. Daytime was often beautiful, and then the rains would last all night. We designed our house with a full hip roof with 4'+ overhangs on all sides. Pretty much all of our wall space was taken up by windows. My wife used to complain that there was nowhere to put furniture, because we had "too many" windows. Tradewinds blew in off the ocean and pushed air in one window of the house, through the living space, and out the other side. Coldest it ever got on the rainiest, windiest night of the year, was ~50F. We never had a need for any type of HVAC system. A dehumidifier would've been useless, because the windows were open, pretty much, 365 days/year. Occasionally, during a big storm with horizontal rain, we'd close some windows to prevent water from coming inside, but we never needed to do that for more than a few hours, and we never closed all the windows, just the ones on the side of the house where the wind was blowing rain inside. On rainy nights, RH was always around 100% outside and, thus, inside as well. In the morning, sun would come back up, things would dry out. Never had any trouble, at all, with mold in the house. Based on advice from neighbors who had built their houses before us, I used the same exterior grade paint containing a mildewcide on all interior walls that we used to paint the outside of the house. All of our closets and the bathroom doors had louvers to allow for airflow, so there was always fresh air flowing through the house. It was a pretty extreme climate, so it's not that surprising that smoke detectors weren't designed to work well there. Planning on getting some, with CO included, for our place in PA soon.

StashingAway

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #20 on: August 17, 2020, 10:01:16 AM »
Coldest it ever got on the rainiest, windiest night of the year, was ~50F. We never had a need for any type of HVAC system. A dehumidifier would've been useless, because the windows were open, pretty much, 365 days/year. Occasionally, during a big storm with horizontal rain, we'd close some windows to prevent water from coming inside, but we never needed to do that for more than a few hours, and we never closed all the windows, just the ones on the side of the house where the wind was blowing rain inside.

I stand corrected! I hadn't accounted for Hawaii

MilesTeg

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Re: Smoke Detector Troubles
« Reply #21 on: August 17, 2020, 11:58:01 AM »
Don't forget most consumer smoke detectors contain radioactive materials and should be handled with care. That means don't break them and release the americanium. Just recycle or dispose of them according to local ordinances.

 

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