False smoke alarms — help!

Has anyone dealt with ongoing nuisance/false smoke alarms? We live in an old Berkeley stucco split-level, and the alarms in the two back/upstairs bedrooms have been going off at random for weeks. There’s no pattern — sometimes they go off in the middle of the day when all the curtains have been open for hours; sometimes (more often) they go off in the middle of the night. They beep 1-5 times and then stop. It’s maddening, and wakes everybody up. So far we’ve tried moving the units further from the heat vents, replacing a unit, turning the heat down, turning the heat up, leaving a window open, running a dehumidifier. Nothing seems to work. If anyone has thoughts I’d really appreciate it! They’re photoelectric detectors.

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RE: False smoke alarms — help! ()

Hi, since it’s heating season and many smoke alarms these days also detect carbon monoxide, I wonder if maybe they are detecting CO and you don’t know it? Just a few years ago people died here in Berkeley from CO poisoning from their heater. Please make sure that’s not the case here. If they are truly only smoke detectors and they are going off at random, I would get new ones of a different type and/or call the manufacturer.

RE: False smoke alarms — help! ()

This happened to me and the problem was dust.  I took the alarms down and apart and dusted thoroughly, and it stopped!  Good luck.

RE: False smoke alarms — help! ()

We have this problem.  It happens when the alarms reach the end of their useful life of ten years (but for certain brands can happen earlier, typically starting around year 8).  The most effective and safest way of dealing with this problem is to replace the alarm.  Note that if your alarms are hardwired or communicate with each other and if you cannot find the identical make and model —and there have been significant changes to alarm availability since some companies were acquired by competitors— you will have to replace ALL hardwired alarms with the same new model.  Until you can do that task it helps to minimize dust in the air and you may want to vacuum the alarms.  

RE: False smoke alarms — help! ()

This may be too simple and you've already tried it, but have you changed the battery? Smoke detectors are sensitive to electrical surges, so a low battery (or fluctuating power for a hard wired device) can cause this.

RE: False smoke alarms — help! ()

same issue here.  our next try after replacing ALL of them is to vacuum them for dust.  fyi~ ours are hardwired in.  the worst is when it happens after midnight.  gah...

RE: False smoke alarms — help! ()

I would recommend replacing both units, because if they are interconnected one might trigger the other. Hope this helps, it must be frustrating having them go off in the middle of the night. All the best!

RE: False smoke alarms — help! ()

I have, its horrible!   After years of dealing with false very loud alarms on my hardwired smoke detectors, plus a good chunk of money spent with electrician to replace all alarms just to have it keep happening, I finally switched to smart alarms (google nest).  I installed them myself and can control everything from my phone.  Its been a few months and no false alarms...hoping this is finally the solution.

RE: False smoke alarms — help! ()

How frustrating indeed! Smoke alarms have a limited life span of approximately ten years. If the alarms in your home are older than that, they should be replaced, both to stop the nuisance and for safety. Note that current building codes call for combined CO2 / Fire detection. Units are readily available at any home supply store. While you're at it, splurge for the ten year lithium batteries and the units should be maintenance-free for another ten years.

RE: False smoke alarms — help! ()

Ugh, we've been having the exact same issue at our place. I've been monitoring your post in hopes of a rational explanation for this frustrating occurrence!