Fun With Smoke Detectors

I wrote how two weekends ago we had our smoke detectors go off during a power outage at home. I’m still pretty sure they went off due to steam from the shower (since the vent fan in the bathroom wasn’t working, the power being out and all). Annoying, but it happens.

This morning I was woken up by the smoke alarm going off at 6:10 am. Which is about 40 minutes before my alarm went off. I was not happy.

The strange thing is that the thing only did its three-beep signal once, and then stopped. But I got up anyway because I wondered if it would go off again in 5 minutes or something. But it didn’t.

Our house has 7 smoke detectors, which I believe are connected to the power supply (and have battery backups), 5 upstairs and 2 downstairs, and they’re also connected to each other. When they operate normally they have a green LED which is on constantly, and a red LED which flashes once a minute. (It’s pretty hard to see because it flashes very briefly, and you have to sit for up to a minute watching it.)

I went around to each detector and saw that 6 of them were flashing green, and one (in the downstairs hallway) was not. The instructions say that flashing green indicates that the alarm which is flashing was recently triggered and then the triggering situation went away.

What on earth would trigger six alarms for just a few seconds and then stop, but not the seventh alarm?

My best guess is that there was some sort of power surge or outage. Either that or one alarm was triggered by something but for some reason five others went into that flashing mode.

Another possibility is that I need to clean the detectors, which the instructions recommend doing and which we’ve never done. And another possibility is that one or more detectors is failing. So I should test them.

The cats were pretty funny after the alarm went off. Roulette was all wound up, running around and meowing. Newton was sitting in the downstairs hallway, and then was a bit restless, walking upstairs (which he doesn’t often do since his hospital stay last spring) and joining me for my shower. Blackjack was snoozing with me when the alarm went off, came down for breakfast while I was reading the instructions, and then went up to sleep in the study, which he doesn’t often do. Newton and Rou I assume were disturbed by the beeping, but Blackjack is deaf so I think my getting up early just threw him off.

Anyway, I went around the house and reset the six flashing detectors, and nothing else happened with them this morning.

Hopefully this was just a fluke.