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Annoying smoke detectors
Old 01-06-2013, 09:07 PM   #1
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Annoying smoke detectors

We've lived in our newly constructed townhouse for two years now. We have about 3000 sq ft on 3 floors with 9 "First Alert" photosynthetic smoke detectors 5 of which are CO/Smoke combo in the hallways, 3 smokes in the bedroom and 1 heat sensor in the garage. These are hard wired detectors with battery backup and connected together so when one goes off they all follow.

We've had about 8 or 9 false alarms mostly at night of course all coming from the CO/smoke detectors but not one in particular. Our neighbors who moved in 6 months ago had to call the fire department in October with their first false alarm experience and they attributed it to dust or insect blocking the sensor. I have vacuumed them a few months ago and I've replaced the batteries 3 times in two years but that didn't help.

Does anyone have similar experience with this type of detectors? and if so what did you do to fix it?
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Old 01-06-2013, 09:44 PM   #2
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I replaced three 12 year old hardwired detectors with Kidde brand CO/Smoke combo units just before x-mas. I noticed the new units came with very stern warnings about not exposing the units to new construction dust. My units are the ionization type rather than photosynthetic (?). How can you be sure these are false alarms? Do they identify whether they are being triggered by smoke or CO? The units I bought have do identify weather it is smoke vs. CO.
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Old 01-07-2013, 05:31 AM   #3
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We have loads of fun with smoke detectors here.

First, an observation: We replaced one a couple of years ago, and gosh was it overly sensitive. What we've noticed is that it has calmed down a lot. This is both a relief and disturbing - it almost seems like they work "too well" out of the factory, but perhaps they do that because they have such a sharp decline in quality as they get older. Is it calm now because it doesn't actually work anymore?

Second, I absolutely hate hate hate the one over our bed in our bedroom. We have an 18' high vaulted ceiling and it is, as you would expect, at the peak. But it isn't on the flat wall (the gable, I guess is what we'd call it), or anywhere near the flat wall. It's more than five feet in towards the middle of the room. So what? Well think about it: When the battery dies, how do you replace it? You need to get up on a ladder, right? Where do you lean the ladder? If you lean it up against the gable wall, you cannot reach the smoke detector behind you. If you lean it up against one of the sides of the vaulted ceiling, it slips off the ceiling as soon as you step on the first rung of the ladder. Beep! Beep! Beep! Every five minutes, all night long, and for as long as it takes to find someone who has a step ladder -- a STEP ladder -- that is actually 15 feet high or better. Insane!
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:47 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jazz4cash View Post
I replaced three 12 year old hardwired detectors with Kidde brand CO/Smoke combo units just before x-mas. I noticed the new units came with very stern warnings about not exposing the units to new construction dust. My units are the ionization type rather than photosynthetic (?). How can you be sure these are false alarms? Do they identify whether they are being triggered by smoke or CO? The units I bought have do identify weather it is smoke vs. CO.
All false alarms have been for smoke because these are the talking detectors type so they announce " smoke please evacuate".
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Old 01-07-2013, 06:55 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by bicker View Post
We have loads of fun with smoke detectors here.

First, an observation: We replaced one a couple of years ago, and gosh was it overly sensitive. What we've noticed is that it has calmed down a lot. This is both a relief and disturbing - it almost seems like they work "too well" out of the factory, but perhaps they do that because they have such a sharp decline in quality as they get older. Is it calm now because it doesn't actually work anymore?

Second, I absolutely hate hate hate the one over our bed in our bedroom. We have an 18' high vaulted ceiling and it is, as you would expect, at the peak. But it isn't on the flat wall (the gable, I guess is what we'd call it), or anywhere near the flat wall. It's more than five feet in towards the middle of the room. So what? Well think about it: When the battery dies, how do you replace it? You need to get up on a ladder, right? Where do you lean the ladder? If you lean it up against the gable wall, you cannot reach the smoke detector behind you. If you lean it up against one of the sides of the vaulted ceiling, it slips off the ceiling as soon as you step on the first rung of the ladder. Beep! Beep! Beep! Every five minutes, all night long, and for as long as it takes to find someone who has a step ladder -- a STEP ladder -- that is actually 15 feet high or better. Insane!
This reminds me of the heat sensor I have in my garage where the ceiling is 12 feet high and the sensor is in the middle. I couldn't reached it with my 6 foot step ladder so I had to borrow my neighbor's 8 foot ladder which barely reached it......It makes you wonder sometimes about the contractor's logic.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:01 AM   #6
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We had the exact same issue with our wired First Alert photosynth detectors with battery backup. We also built our home. We first thought the alerts were low battery issues but were told by our builder that it was likely dust in the unit. We had to take them down, vacuum each of them out and then reset them. Sometimes this worked and sometimes not so well. And yes, the false alarms would ALWAYS happen sometime in the middle of the night! Aaarrrrggghhh!! Just when you think you had it fixed and get your heart rate back down to a level where you could fall asleep, they would go off again!!!! The only thing better than having the alarms go off at 2am is having to get the vacuum out to clean 10 smoke detectors! There were a couple times we had to just turn the power off on all of them. Not safe but we were at the end of our rope with the kids not being able to sleep and the dog going nuts.

I have read many stories about this kind of thing where the false alarms generally happen between 1 and 3am... I think there are angry smoke detector employees that are somehow doing this to people on pupose. Not really, but it sure makes a person wonder. After about 8 years of unpredictability, we finally dumped them all and replaced them with another detector that has a 10-year battery and isn't hard-wired. No problems yet... although it's probably only been about a year since we made the change. You may want to try the cleaning thing, say every 3-6 months (during the day) to see if that helps. Otherwise, I'd get a different kind right away and save yourself the aggrevation.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Corporateburnout View Post
It makes you wonder sometimes about the contractor's logic.
I have to give the builder his due: We were Phase I. In Phase II, the smoke detector is on the gable wall.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:16 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by panacea View Post
We had the exact same issue with our wired First Alert photosynth detectors with battery backup. We also built our home. We first thought the alerts were low battery issues but were told by our builder that it was likely dust in the unit. We had to take them down, vacuum each of them out and then reset them. Sometimes this worked and sometimes not so well. And yes, the false alarms would ALWAYS happen sometime in the middle of the night! Aaarrrrggghhh!! Just when you think you had it fixed and get your heart rate back down to a level where you could fall asleep, they would go off again!!!! The only thing better than having the alarms go off at 2am is having to get the vacuum out to clean 10 smoke detectors! There were a couple times we had to just turn the power off on all of them. Not safe but we were at the end of our rope with the kids not being able to sleep and the dog going nuts.

I have read many stories about this kind of thing where the false alarms generally happen between 1 and 3am... I think there are angry smoke detector employees that are somehow doing this to people on pupose. Not really, but it sure makes a person wonder. After about 8 years of unpredictability, we finally dumped them all and replaced them with another detector that has a 10-year battery and isn't hard-wired. No problems yet... although it's probably only been about a year since we made the change. You may want to try the cleaning thing, say every 3-6 months (during the day) to see if that helps. Otherwise, I'd get a different kind right away and save yourself the aggrevation.
I'll clean them again but this time I'll remove them from the ceiling and perform a thorough vacuuming and if it doesn't work I'll replace them with a different brand.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:19 PM   #9
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Does anyone have similar experience with this type of detectors? and if so what did you do to fix it?
Read the reviews for your particular model at Amazon dot com. It may give you what others may have encountered.

It may be worthwhile to talk to the manufacturer's customer service. I replaced 3 co/smoke detectors last year and after a month, 1 started giving me a low battery alert. I called customer service, they asked for the date code of the product and I got a replacement.
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