Trying To Fix An Annoying Chirping Smoke Alarm

Frustrations With Manufacturers, 9-Volt Batteries & The 5:30 Wakup Call

Smoke detector alarm
The non-mechanical blogger is at the port of indecision with a beeping smoke detector.

I  recently used space in this blog to cover my mechanical fix-it shortcomings when it came to replacing a door lock in an old rented beach house.

Well here’s another one for you: the annoying chirping smoke detector.

It is a fact that a smoke alarm’s battery will always go out in the middle of the night and only when you are in one of those super-deep sleeps you’ve not had in weeks.

For me, this happened at 5:30 in the morning.

I was startled by a loud beeping sound, so I did what every American does when this occurs: I looked around confused until I got my bearings, got out of bed to try and locate the source of the annoying noise,  then discovered with dismay tho hardly surprise that it was located on the ceiling in a far corner of the room.

So I had to stumble out in the darkness to another part of the house until I literally tripped over something I could stand on to barely reach the detector.

On my tip-toes, I reached up, yanked out the battery and crawled back into bed. Thirty seconds later the dang thing beeped again.

How did it beep without a battery? Furthermore, the battery these things use are 9-volts!

So I stumbled back through the dark and located a junk drawer where my roommate has the world’s largest collection of AA batteries. But not one 9-volt. Who the heck has 9-volt batteries anyway!?

No  American device has used 9-volt batteries since the transistor radio.  Yet the manufacturers of smoke alarms use them for the exact purpose of frustrating people like me, and ideally at 5:30 in the morning.

I then recalled we have another required detector device – this one is for chemical detection, I believe, even tho we live nowhere near a chemical plant – because it recently fell off the wall (it was held on by adhesive stickers). So I pulled out its battery– yeah, a 9-volt! – installed it and crawled back into bed.

I cracked a small smile at my ingenuity until, 30 second later, the smoke detector beeped again.

So I got back up on the stool, ready to yank the alarm from its moorings, only to discover there were half a dozen wires attached to it going up into some mysterious place in the ceiling. WHAT!?!?

By this time it was 6:30 in the morning. I crawled back into bed and put a pillow over my head. Although as anyone knows who has tried the pillow sandwich, this never works for getting back to sleep.

I thought about calling my wonderful ex-girlfriend who is good at fixing things (and whom was mentioned in the story about the door knob) in the hope that, after giving me a brief but spirited lecture on my mechanical shortcomings, she would be able to walk me through a process to get the alarm to stop beeping.

But without her physically here I figured it was doubtful even she would be able to help, so all I would likely receive for my efforts would be a brief but spirited lecture on my mechanical shortcomings.

Then I came up with a brilliant idea – call the fire department! Surely they deal with this issue all the time. Maybe they would even dispatch someone over to fix it because, well, it’s in their best interest to have working smoke alarms in the community.

Alas, all the guy could do was tell me that the battery I put in is likely also bad and if that doesn’t work then the detector is faulty and if that’s the case we will have to get an electrician to cap all those wires.

What I would LIKE to do is rip the danged thing off the ceiling and take a hammer to it. It’s not like we need it; this is a small house, the hallway alarm is two feet away and so loud it rattles our neighbor’s wine glasses. (I know this because it’s as sensitive as a mother’s hearing and goes off whenever we turn on the oven.)

Yet in America, it is the law that every room must have a smoke detector, and it is also law that the battery in them must go out sometime at around 5:30 in the morning.

Furthermore, the manufacturers of smoke alarms are required to make sure the devices use batteries that are 30 years old and impossible to find, and that any instructions are in tiny print, white paint on white paint (why not put the wording in black for cryin’ out loud!?), therefore rendering any information it may provide useless.

If I ever meet someone who works at a smoke detector company, I’m going to yank them by the ear to my place, have them put in a brand new battery and disconnect any wires attached to it.

And then, maybe I can get a good night’s sleep.