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Old 05-11-2008, 08:51 AM
 
1 posts, read 27,062 times
Reputation: 27
Default Smoke alarm/electrical problem....help!

Here's the problem. We have a hardwired smoke alarm system. All alarms have a battery back up. Woke up this morning to the alarm in the hall chirping. Changed the battery.....still chirping. Changed the battery again....actually tried all 4 D-cells I had....still chirping. Tried a battery from an alarm that was not chirping....still chirping.

Next, I physically unplugged the alarm from its harness and removed the battery. The chirping continued....but in the ceiling. I went out and turned off all power to all the smoke alarms in the house at the circuit breaker....CHIRPING CONTINUES.

Does this mean there is a short in the wiring? I really hate to call an electrician but don't know enough about electrical wiring to even know where to begin. Is there anything else I should check or do?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 05-11-2008, 02:34 PM
 
3,021 posts, read 15,680,574 times
Reputation: 2385
Default Sounds like bad sensor unit

Those sensor units go bad. Just about can't be wiring if it worked proper before.

Try switching sensor units between locations. If the bad one still chirps in a new location and you have given it new batteries, points to replace the unit. If the location (its wiring, mounting unit, etc) is the cause, the swapped sensor should chirp, just a way to troubleshoot the system.

Problem can be dust. Try vacuuming the sensor, see if that helps. Whatever, they have a working lifetime, quality control on those type equipment can be a problem and some are marginal from the factory and fail after a short time.

Sounds like the sensor head has failed.

The cheaper brands are usually more of a problem. The Kidde brand is usually fairly trouble free if you get the better units.
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Old 05-11-2008, 06:40 PM
 
Location: West Michigan
12,152 posts, read 20,564,621 times
Reputation: 16133
Agree with Cosmic, sounds like a sensor is bad. Life span for a smoke detector is around 8 to 10 years usually. BRK makes a good unit as well as Kiddie. Try to replace the units as they go bad with a dual-sensor type because the dual-sensor type can detect both slow smoldering fires and fast moving hot fires equally well. Single sensor units are good at one or the other type fires, but not both.
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Old 05-11-2008, 07:44 PM
 
Location: Alexandria, VA
5,151 posts, read 8,356,027 times
Reputation: 3361
Good luck Arsenal..weird that it still chirped w/the power off.

If I can add a question to this thread? We also have hard-wired smoke detectors...some of them just will NOT open to change the battery (9V) - I actually broke the sliding door of one trying to get the chirping battery out...good news is: it stopped chirping, but I'm sure it will start at some point. I think we'll need an electrician...they don't have a dedicated line to the fuse box We were/are doing alot of painting/sanding so it was probably a dust issue...my question: what do we do if the "flap" just will not open? some do and we've changed those batteries no problem...the others are stuck w/OLD batteries. Thanks.
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Old 05-11-2008, 10:24 PM
 
3,021 posts, read 15,680,574 times
Reputation: 2385
Default Give them a shock.......

Those detectors are very efficienct power sippers. They probably have some capacitors that charged enough to give them a wee bit of power for a few seconds or even a minute to continue to chirp without any apparent power source. Duh, is this thing an alien????

Most of those battery doors can be convinced to open if you give them a shock of some type. Like a bang with the butt of a screwdriver. Spray with a lil spray lube, tap again. Just pay attention to the ones that opened as do they have a locking tab. Some of the sliding ones, need a lot of thumb pressure and real strong hands to get them to give up.

It is a good practice to save the plastic cover booties that come with the detectors sensors. Either recover or temporary remove them if doing any type of dirty work. They get dead pretty easy in the wrong environment. Depending on the model number, some don't even need a battery if they have a source of power. Usually the hard wired ones are chirpping because the sensor is toast if they have a good power source. They will also chirp if the 115 VAC power is off and the battery is low. Another good practice is to have a spare new one, without the battery installed. Use it to substitute for a one you suspect has gone south. Swap batteries, as necessary to check between a suspect sensor and the Master Standard back up unit.

When all else fails, read the instruction book that came with the sensors. Those are the lil paper critters that was in the box with the sensors. The stuff the wife always throws away or the dog loves to chew. I have one special place that I save all instructions for everything. Amazing the information included in those pages. Who would have thunk to put it all down in advance of actually having a problem.
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Old 05-14-2008, 03:13 PM
 
Location: Alexandria, VA
5,151 posts, read 8,356,027 times
Reputation: 3361
I actually have a file that I keep all manuals w/the receipts stapled to each... The manual shows how to open it, the tabs aren't locked - but... still broke the swing door off one. Scares me because of all the warnings about the voltage, yet they don't have a dedicated fuse

We wife/women-folk keep instructions and DO read them

I also have a section in the file for each paint chip sample in case I need to get more paint, a list of the model/serial numbers of appliances, etc.
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Old 11-03-2008, 07:40 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,820 posts, read 28,597,550 times
Reputation: 11638
You have a bird nest in your attic. The Chirping you hear is hungry nestlings.
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Old 01-29-2011, 09:24 AM
 
1 posts, read 23,277 times
Reputation: 11
Got the same thing happening with my BRK system, but I don't think it's sensors in the units. As coarsenal said - the chirping comes from the area around the wiring in the ceiling, not the units themselves. (To prove this was the case, I took all of my disconnected units outside, including the unrelated CO2 alarm for good measure. Seriously, it makes no sense, but for all the world it seems like the wirebox itself is chirping). Since the units aren't even in the house, it's got to be an electrical problem. I want to know who the heck thought it was a good idea to wire *anything* that can make a noise in a place you can't get to...
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Old 01-30-2011, 06:24 AM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan and Sometimes Orange County CA
15,820 posts, read 28,597,550 times
Reputation: 11638
These things are basically garbage. We had endless problems with them we changed brands, replaced defective ones (a very large percentage of them proved to be defective when tested. They either alarm all the time or do nto alarm at all no matter how much smoke you blow into them. Finally we took most of them down and replaced them with the battery powered kind. We had enough waking up at 3 a.m. Besides, no one pays any attention to them anymore anyway. They just put a pillowe over their head and wait for dad to turn them off. I think that they did more harm than good. At least people used to get up for the battery powered ones that did not constantly false alarm.
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Old 01-31-2011, 06:00 PM
 
Location: Sarasota FL
3,732 posts, read 2,857,986 times
Reputation: 2224
I had the same problem. Not only chirping but going off for no reason. Blew compressed air in the sensor and problem stopped. Probably dust because two of the detectors are mounted at the highest point on cathedral ceiling.
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