Why does it always happen in the middle of the night, on a night where you went to bed early and were trying to get a solid night’s sleep.
Last night, at 1:45 a.m., our fire alarm went off. It blared throughout the house for about 1 to 2 seconds, and then stopped. We woke up, absolutely panicked, hearts thumping in our chests.
When the alarm went off a moment later, I realized what had happened – another of our faulty smoke detectors went bad.
Change Your Batteries to Stop Smoke Detector Beeping
Most homeowners know that smoke detectors need batteries every year. In fact, you should probably pick two days out of the year that are roughly six months apart and replace the batteries then. Pick January 1 and July 1, or your birthday and six months later. Or the longest and shortest day of the year.
How do you know when you need to replace the batteries in your smoke detector? Your smoke detector might start beeping – a sign that you need to replace the batteries – or, a green light will go off or turn red. Your smoke detector might just sound an alarm that won’t turn off until you yank it down from the ceiling and disconnect the bad battery.
All of these are signs that you need new batteries. Since batteries are expensive, I’d buy them at Costco or Sam’s club and just keep a huge pack of 9-Volts or AAAs next to your tools, so your kids don’t poach them for their technology toys or video games.
Change Your Smoke Detector Every Five Years
We replace our smoke detector batteries regularly. But what many homeowners don’t realize is that smoke detectors themselves – the actual smoke detector unit – goes bad every 3 to 5 years. Even if the label tells you to replace it in 10 years. Our experience is that our smoke detectors go bad (or burn out) around every five years, which is the industry average.
At that point, there’s nothing to do but go find a smoke detector sale, buy up a bunch and start the cycle all over again.
Our faulty smoke detector – the one that woke us up in the middle of the night – is 5 years, 10 months old. How do I know? Because on the back side, it had a manufactured date of January 4, 2004. It was made in China and there is a small label that says, “Replace in 10 years.”
That’s helpful – especially at 1:45 a.m.
Make the Fire Alarm Stop Blaring, Please!
We have a fairly extensive alarm system. We put it in because our homeowners’ insurance policy was reduced so much it essentially pays for the alarm system. Everything is tied into the house alarm system and some pieces of it are tied into the master alarm company. So, if our house catches fire, or a burglar gets in, our alarm is supposed to trip and send a message to the alarm company, which is supposed to call the police or fire department.
But at the same time, an internal house fire alarm goes off. It’s very loud. How loud? Let’s just say, you’d have to be dead to sleep through it.
When you have a faulty smoke detector, sometimes you get a warning blare of your internal house fire alarm system. That’s what happened yesterday, late afternoon. I was getting out of the shower and thought I heard the alarm go off – but not even for a second.
I asked my younger son, Michael, if the alarm had gone off. He said it had and all he was doing was playing computer games.
A few months ago, this had happened, and it turned out we had another faulty smoke detector. We replaced that one, and replaced all of the batteries and thought we were set. After all, these smoke detectors are supposed to be good for 10 years, right?
We should’ve known better. This week, while I’m in Los Angeles, Sam is going to go find a smoke detector sale and buy up a bunch of new smoke detectors. We’ll have to mark our calendars to replace the new batch in five years. There’s no point in waiting until they turn into faulty smoke detectors – all I’ll get out of that is another bad’s night sleep.
Do you have any faulty smoke detector stories to share?