While it is incredibly important to take every alarm seriously, there can be instances where the alarm is sounded despite there being no fire.
These are usually disregarded as false alarms; however, they might actually be hinting at a possible issue with the smoke detector itself.
How Do Smoke Alarms Work?
But before we start discussing what could trigger a false alarm, it’s important to know the basics of how smoke alarms actually work. Generally, when it comes to smoke alarms, there are two different types that could be referred to.
Ionisation Smoke Detectors
Though they have been proven to react slightly faster when dealing with fast-flaming fires, ionisation smoke alarms aren’t always considered the better option.
These smoke alarms consist of two electrically charged plates and a small amount of radioactive material, which forms a current between the plates through ionisation. As smoke enters the chamber, this flow becomes disrupted, leading to an alarm. However, these smoke detectors are not known to be that good at detecting smouldering fires.
Photoelectric Smoke Detectors
Now, photoelectric smoke alarms actually “see” smoke, meaning they are able to detect smoke particles, making them far better at reacting in the early stages of a smouldering fire. This is done through the use of a light beam that is aimed at a sensing chamber. When smoke particles enter the chamber, the light beam is deflected onto a sensor, triggering the alarm.
These detectors are deemed to be the better of the two smoke alarms, so much so that Queensland legislation actually states that photoelectric smoke alarms will be required in all households by 2027.
Why Does Your Smoke Detector Keep Going Off?
Now that we know how smoke detectors work, what could potentially trigger a false alarm, and what might it mean for your smoke detectors?
Most battery operated smoke detectors will sound an alarm or a repetitive beep when their batteries are running low on power. At this point, you will need to remove the battery and replace it with a new one, which can be a tedious task.
To avoid this problem, modern smoke alarms can be hardwired into your electrical circuit or powered by long-lasting batteries, meaning it could be time to consider an upgrade.
Smoke alarms are notorious for taunting amateur chefs. One minute you’re relaxing, and the next you’re standing on a chair, waving a tea towel above your head while staring at your char-grilled dinner. We’ve all been there.
Generally, if your smoke alarm has been installed at the required distance from the kitchen, it should not be alerting you every time the toast is slightly burnt.
If this is the case, it might be time to consider having your smoke detectors tested, as it could mean their sensitivity settings are incorrect.
Similarly, some smoke detectors can be sensitive to particles that are released by strong chemicals. Generally, when it comes to chemicals, the most common cause of a false alarm is actually the volatile organic compounds found in paint.
These compounds are what keep the paint wet in the pot and dry on the walls. But if your smoke alarms are too sensitive, these compounds may also be the cause of a false alarm.
Steam and Humidity
Some smoke alarms can actually struggle to distinguish between moisture content and smoke particles.
In extreme cases, this moisture content can actually scatter the light beam of a photoelectric smoke alarm or affect the ion chamber in ionisation smoke alarms. This will lead to a false alarm. So, if your smoke alarm is installed too close to a bathroom, it may trigger far more frequently than it should.
Is Your Smoke Alarm For You?
While false alarms can become very annoying very quickly, it is important to remember that smoke alarms are one of the most important components of your household’s safety system. Meaning, don’t be tempted to just turn them off.
Instead, pay attention to what could be causing the false alarm. Is the smoke detector too sensitive? Is it too close to the kitchen or the bathroom? Is it outdated? If you are unsure of the answer, we recommend calling your local electrician.
Our electricians at Jetset Electrical understand the importance of trusting your smoke alarms and can tailor their solutions to both your needs and Queensland regulations.
So, for peace of mind, call your local Gold Coast and Brisbane electricians today at 1300 453 871 and ensure your household’s fire safety is up to scratch.