Sunday, 17 April 2016


Why does it always happen at one o’clock in the morning?

Last night, our upstairs smoke alarm went off and we were woken from a deep sleep. 
In the absence of an obvious raging inferno and still three quarters asleep, I was soon stood on a chair on the landing, my groggy mind set on replacing the battery. The stupid thing would not come apart. ‘Insert screwdriver and slide forwards,’ The instruction label tells me. Fumbling desperately I finally managed to separate the battery compartment without actually ripping the whole thing off its mounting, something that was becoming more attractive as a solution.
New battery from the battery drawer inserted and after a few sullen beeps it settled down again. Just about enough time to get back to sleep and it was complaining once more BEEP BLOODY BEEP!

I know that all sorts of different things besides a fire can cause these things to go off, a few molecules of perfume, hairspray or butane gas will do it, so we searched the house for gas taps left on, smells of burning, spills of perfume or anything else, but nothing was amiss.
Thinking I would try the scientific approach, before resorting to a large hammer, I got my test meter and compared the old battery against another new one. The old one read 9.07V, not that low. The brand new one read 9.6V but both were off load.   I then, slightly more proficiently this time, removed the battery compartment without resorting to violence and checked the battery I had optimistically put in it.  On load, it showed 8.4V! Not what I expected from a new battery, so I put the good one I had just tested in and It read 9.2V on load.
The unit complained a little more feebly, but then remained silent. Confident I had cured the problem I replaced it and went back to bed once more. 

BEEP BLOODY BEEP again just as we were drifting off.   A stray bit of inspiration filtered into my tired brain. Perhaps just stuffing a new battery into it wasn’t enough for the thrice damned designers of this particular device, maybe having the right voltage again was not enough and you need to tell the system it has a new battery. The only way to do this, in the absence of any other control buttons, is to press the test button. Any thought in a storm and so I did and ears ringing after standing directly under the 90 decibel BEEPs this produced, for the remainder of the night we were able to sleep undisturbed. Well, I was. Unfortunately The Better Half was now so wide awake she could not get off again for another hour. But here we are now on a bright new sunny morning and not a peep from the smoke alarm. At least, not until some unspecified date in the future, when no doubt, it will wake us up again and like a tiny baby demanding to be fed with a cry you cannot ignore, it will demand another battery, no doubt, at some future ungodly hour.

1 comment:

  1. I can SO identify with this. These new-battery-needing smoke alarms never beep unless it's the middle of the's a communistic plot! Funny morning last week I woke up around 5:00am to the worst smell in the world. It was the smell that woke me up, as I had already had my middle of the night bathroom trip. As I swung my legs out of bed to go and investigate, DOTH's bedroom door opened and I heard her say, "What's that awful smell?!" It's hard to describe, but I guess a mixture of skunk and coffee. We searched every area of the house and could find nothing...and I mean it was STRONG! Stuck our head outdoors and it did seem it could be coming from outside, but it was so much stronger inside. Googled it and it seems others have experienced this, also, in the past. The most likely explanation was that in light of our still frosty overnight temps, and then the warming up in the morning, the lawns are frosting and defrosting regularly and creating this nasty decomposing smell. To cut the story short, it didn't disappear until around 12 noon, and it has never been back. If you are interested, Google 'what's that awful skunk coffee smell in my house?' And see what you find!