Why Would a Smoke Alarm Go Off For a Few Seconds?

Why Would a Smoke Alarm Go Off For a Few Seconds?

A fire could happen at any time of the day. It might start from a lighted candle that catches a curtain. Or from faulty wiring that starts within the walls. It could happen when we are in the middle of a very deep sleep, or when we are away from home. We do not want this to happen, no!

Thanks to Sir George Andrew Darby who invented the first smoke detector in 1902. It was a very splendid idea to make something to alert people if there’s smoke. We can’t see it as it starts as fumes. A cloud of smoke is a sign that something’s burning. It’s the start of the fire. What a sharp mind indeed!

Even before, they already have ideas of a fire alarm, smoke detector, a gadget. These detect a poisonous gas like carbon monoxide. We always think about how good our technology is nowadays. But, if we go back to its history, we can conclude how amazing these men of science were!

Types of Smoke Alarms

There are two basic types of smoke alarms, Photoelectric and Ionization Smoke Alarms.

  • Photoelectric Smoke Alarm is quick in sensing a slow, smoky fire. One example of this is an electrical fire that starts inside our walls
  • Ionization Smoke Alarm is very good at detecting fast-moving fires. This includes a candle fire catching a piece of a curtain. This happens very very quickly.

We cannot tell what kind of fire would start when an unfortunate event happens. We do not want to choose either. The United States Fire Administration (USFA) urges people to have both types of alarms. Good thing there’s already dual-sensor alarms available in the market. Not only dual but multi-sensor alarms, because it will also detect Carbon Monoxide. We are lucky to have these sensors in one gadget now.

How do Smoke Alarms Work?

Smoke Alarms has two basic parts, Sensor and the Electronic Horn.

The sensor is the part that detects smoke. This is the main part of the gadget.

Electronic Horn produces a very loud sound or beep. It alarms people in the surrounding area.

When we buy something, like a gadget or device, we need to know everything about it. We need to know what are its specifications, how does it work, how to take care of it, and what are the dos and don’ts. We also need to know the common issues of that specific gadget. Knowing the gadget is important to save money against extra costs. Since our topic is about Smoke Alarm, we need to dig deep into this device so let’s continue.

How to know that your Smoke Alarm is in Good Working Condition

Like any other device, we need to make sure that they are functioning well. One way of taking care of them is knowing how they are working. We test them. We are talking about an “alarm”, a smoke alarm to be specific. This doesn’t mean that we need to test them with a “real smoke”. No. We should not do that.

The reason why there is a “test” button in our alarms, is for knowing that they function the way they should. We now know the rationale behind that “test” button. We need to do weekly maintenance check on our fire alarms to make sure it still has a reliable power source. Smoke detectors would need a 9-volt battery or 120-volt home current.

The test button is usually on the top or the side of the unit. The user’s manual will guide us where as well. It will also tell us how to use the test button. Different unit brands have different instructions.

Clean Them

Specks of dust can accumulate inside our little detector’s cover. This could interfere with the main purpose of the device. It could either block the sensors or make a false alarm. One of the stores that sell and install safety alarms recommends cleaning them at least once a month. 

How? By vacuuming the outside of the alarm using our household’s vacuum soft brush attachment. Another way of cleaning is to remove the outer casing, leave a distance between the device and bug spray. Never use strong chemicals or solvents. Not even water because excess moisture can damage the unit. 

Why Would Smoke Alarms Go Off for a Few Seconds?

A little knowledge about the little sniffer will give us an idea of why alarms go off for a few seconds?

When we power up or install a new battery in our alarm, it is normal for it to go off and make a sound for 5-10 seconds. What is not normal is if there’s no smoke present and the sound continues to go off. So let us lie down all the possibilities:

One most common reason is the placement of the Smoke Detector. It should be beyond the 10-feet distance away from cooking and combustion particles. It should be definitely away from our stoves and toasters. Sensitivity to overcooked food could also make our alarms active.

Alarms are also very sensitive to humidity and steam. It will confuse the alarms between the dense moisture particles and smoke particles. One example of this is the alarm inside the bathroom. It is where a hot shower is always in use, thus we need to move it to a different location.

Earlier, we talked about cleaning the device at least once a month. Yes, we need to. Dust can accumulate in it. Small insects can fit into those chamber entrances where smoke enters. These insects will interfere with the sensors and will make nuisance sound.

Let us also keep in mind that harsh chemicals, cleaning agents, or paint fumes can make our detectors go gaga. We need to make sure to open the windows. It is important to have good ventilation when working with these smelly chemicals.

Last but not the least, it might be the batteries. If that little detector creates a high pitch sound, it is its way of telling you that it needs a new battery. That is if it is a battery-operated alarm. We can disregard changing batteries if we do not have a battery-operated alarm system tho.

Whatever may be the reason why they sometimes create, it won’t harm us if we try to find out. They are inside our house to help, and not to make a scene. So if they are getting our attention, for sure something is wrong. Let us not take their noise for granted. 

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