Overly sensitive smoke detectors

Discussion in 'Workshop and Home Improvement' started by KLF, Jan 5, 2008.

  1. KLF

    KLF Frame waxer

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    Does anybody know of any way to adjust the sensitivity of a smoke detector? Mine are driving me crazy!

    Background: I bought my house in 1988 from a local firefighter, he installed hard-wired smoke detectors in 3 locations, one on each floor. This past summer I was doing some painting of the ceilings, and I discovered that smoke detectors are supposed to be replaced every 10 years! Who knew??

    So, I bought 3 new hard-wired detectors with battery backup, swapped them all out, threw away the old ones that looked like they were from the 70's. Tested perfectly, tripping one makes them all wail.

    Fast-forward to the winter, now that all the windows are closed. Now, everytime I use my oven, I have to pull them all down and put them in a plastic bag. Otherwise, the slightest wiff of smoke and they all start beeping. With a propane-fired oven, all I have to do is turn it on. Turning the range hood fan on High doesn't help.

    What's up with that? And what can I do?
     
  2. FJ40_owner

    FJ40_owner

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    Dirt.

    Clean the Ionisation chamber. Basically the fire sensing chamber is contaminated. That is how they work. Combustion particles enter the Ion chamber and the detector reacts by going into alarm.
     
  3. KLF

    KLF Frame waxer

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    There's no way. They are new detectors, I just installed them in August. They look absolutely brand new.
     
  4. FJ40_owner

    FJ40_owner

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    Then the detectors are doing their job. Are they Photoelectric or Ionisation?
     
  5. -Spike-

    -Spike-

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    They're supposed to be cleaned more often than you think. They might respond well to a cleaning. Have you tried isolating them to find which one is tripping, or are they all equally sensitive?

    -Spike
     
  6. ff347

    ff347

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    Look on the manufactures site and see if they offer a heat detector that is compatible, take it back to where you got it and swap it out. Federal Signal makes some that might work for you:

    Fire Alarms FSF100SB Heat Detector Description

    You could move the one that you have now further away if possible.
     
  7. KLF

    KLF Frame waxer

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    Well, I'll give 'em a shot of canned air, just to satisfy the possibility. Honestly, I'm not sure which one it is, maybe next time I'm cooking a steak on the grill pan I'll see if I can figure it out.

    Thanks.
     
  8. wfd175

    wfd175

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    Smoke Detector info.

    Do you have a Carbon Monoxide detector in the house? I've been to CO calls, in which the high CO from an applicance has also set off a smoke detector in the same room as the appliance. In addition, since propane rises, the unburned propane gas itself could also be throwing the detector in alarm.

    Ionization alarms are best suited for rooms, which contain highly combustible material. These types of material include:

    1. Cooking fat/grease 2. Flammable liquids 3. Newspaper 4. Paint 5. Cleaning solutions

    Smoke alarms with ionization technology are the most popular types sold in the United States.

    The NFPA recommends smoke alarms be installed in EVERY room and area of your home or bulding for complete protection. For maximum protection, install at least one ionization and one photoelectronic smoke alarm on each level of your home.

    All smoke alarms should be replaced after 10 years of operation. Ten years is a smoke alarm's useful lifetime and for continued, reliable safety and protection, smoke alarms need to be replaced.

    The following are some general guidelines:

    Because smoke rises, smoke alarms should be installed on the ceiling or on walls at least 4 to 6 inches below the ceiling.

    Smoke alarms should not be located less than 4 to 6 inches from where the wall and ceiling meet on either surface; this space is dead air that receives little circulation.

    Smoke alarms should not be mounted in front of an air supply, return duct, near ceiling fans, peaks of A-frame ceilings, dusty areas, locations outside the 40 degree Farenheit to 100 degree Farenheit temperature range, in humid areas or near fluorescent lighting.

    Photoelectronic alarms contain a light emitting diode (LED) which is adjusted to direct a narrow infrared light across the unit's detection chamber. When smoke particles enter this chamber they interfere with the beam and scatter the light. A strategically placed photodiode monitors the amount of light scattered within the chamber. When a pre-set level of light strikes the photodiode, the alarm is activated.

    Photoelectronic smoke alarms respond first to slow smoldering fires. A smoldering fire generates large amounts of thick, black smoke with little heat and may smolder for hours before bursting into flames.

    Photoelectronic models are best suited for living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens. This is because these rooms often contain large pieces of furniture, such as sofas, chairs, mattresses, counter tops, etc. which will burn slowly and create more smoldering smoke than flames. Photoelectronic smoke alarms are also less prone to nuisance alarms in the kitchen area than ionization smoke alarms
     
  9. KLF

    KLF Frame waxer

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    Thanks.

    I don't have a CO alarm right now, but I probably should have one in the basement since my boiler and dryer are both propane.

    I'll check the paperwork that came with the smokes and see if it tells me what type it is. I'm planning to sell my house soon, so I saved the docs and receipts to show that they were recently replaced.

    Ya... well the NFPA would also like us all to have fully sprinklered houses, and we'd all be sleeping on Nomex sheets. ;)
     
  10. sirenmoses

    sirenmoses

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    Does sleeping in my Nomex uniform count?? ;p




    My fire station has sprinklers....













    They aren't connected to any water supply. :doh:
     
  11. KLF

    KLF Frame waxer

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    LOL.... I have some old Nomex coveralls downstairs from my Halliburton days. I guess I could wear them as jammies...
     

  12. Jakes40

    Jakes40 IH8MUD Poser SILVER Star

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    Ionization smokes usually have a yellow label. and are junk IMO isolate the smokes and move the one that keeps going off.
    Our AHJ does require sprinklers over 3000 square ft. houses are so close the fire jumps from house to house.
    I'm getting my house sprinkled in the spring its free for me and there’s been 4 different friends families / friends have hade a fire in the past year kind of scary.

    "Sprinklers save lives"
     

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