Is Your Smoke Alarm Just For Show?

You may be surprised to know that when we visit our customers’ homes to carry out routine maintenance and service on their intruder alarm systems, one of the most common sights we see is a smoke detector with the cover off and no battery in it.  Often what happens is that people take the battery out so they can carry on searing a steak without the alarm sounding, and without having to spend ages flapping a tea towel near it to get it to stop.  Remembering to replace the battery is often totally forgotten after a nice meal, and it can be a week before anyone notices the battery still hasn’t been put back – we don’t look at the ceiling frequently so it’s easy to overlook.

There are times when we have all taken the battery out of a bleeping smoke alarm because we’re in the middle of cooking something fancy, but it’s vital to put it back.  A smoke alarm can save your life in the event of a fire, so even though it’s an unobtrusive little box on the ceiling you should treat it with the same respect as the airbags or the brakes on your car.  Smoke alarms, whether it’s a self-installed battery operated one from a hardware store, or a commercial system installed by professionals like us, have a working life of ten years.  The battery may need to be replaced, but they alarm itself will be looking after you for a decade.

The most common cause of smoke alarms bleeping (apart from when they should be sounding the alarm) is that the battery needs replacing.  Most of us don’t have a stock of spare square 9v batteries at home, so when the bleeping tells us we need to replace the battery we remove the old one to stop the bleeping.  It’s then very easy to forget to buy a new battery, so grab your shopping list and add 9v batteries to it.  If you have one spare then you can replace it straight away and not put anyone’s life at risk by not having a working smoke alarm.

Another common cause of smoke alarms, or intruder alarms, bleeping in error is cabling issues caused by rodents.  Over the winter rats and mice are tempted into homes because it’s warmer than outside and there’s a ready supply of food available.  The problem comes when rodents get into the spaces where your cabling runs, such as through the attic or between the floor and ceiling of the stories of your home.  They will gnaw on anything, and the cables for your home security system are no exception.

If you hear scurrying sounds in your home, get a pest controller over as soon as possible; They can deal with the rodent problem before they cause damage to your cables.  As well as damaging alarm systems, rats and mice nibbling at cables causes electrical fires and without a working smoke detector this could prove fatal.  In properties where there is a frequent risk of rodents coming in, such as older, rural properties, it may be worth looking at a wireless system to remove the risk of rodents chewing through the wires.  Each property is different and sometimes very thick walls pose a challenge for a wireless system.  Our engineers are very experienced in assessing properties for the most suitable system, so by working with us you can save yourself a lot of hassle searching through the available systems, trying to decide which one is right for you.

As we move into the warmer months and have more barbecues, we may find that smoke detectors placed near rear windows and doors are triggered in error from the smoke making its way into the home.  The temptation to remove the battery returns, and then we face the same issue of whether the battery is replaced in good time.  If you find that this is a recurrent problem for you in the warmer months, you may want to re-locate your smoke alarm to a more suitable place where it won’t be falsely triggered.