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8 Causes Of False Alarms In Smoke Detectors

    Fire Safety

    Smoke alarms save lives. When they go off while you’re sleeping due to a fire breaking out in your home, they can reduce your chances of dying by fifty percent! But sometimes they’ll sound when there is no fire. A good smoke detector can even sense smoke from fires that are hidden, such as electrical ones. So if the alarm goes off in your Chicagoland home, just assume that there’s a fire somewhere in your home and take the proper precautions.

    But sometimes there really is no fire, yet for some reason, your smoke alarm still sounds. The following are the eight main reasons why false alarms happen:

    1. Burnt Food

    This is probably the top reason your smoke alarm activates. It may happen when you’re not paying attention to your cooking, or it can happen when you are. It only takes a whiff of food burning on the stove to set it off, something most of us have probably experienced. Even burnt toast or popcorn left for too long in the microwave can send enough smoke particles in the air that your alarm will sense them. To cut down on this happening, don’t install a smoke detector in your kitchen, but somewhere nearby, such as a hallway leading there.

    1. Fireplaces

    Although smoke from your fireplace should be escaping through the chimney, sometimes they’ll send smoke back into your house, setting off the smoke alarm. To keep this from happening in your home, make sure that your chimney is regularly cleaned to ensure there are no obstructions that would deter the smoke from leaving. Also, before starting a fire, be sure the dampers are properly set.

    1. High Humidity

    A smoke alarm usually can’t tell the difference between smoke particles and water particles. So high humidity within a home can set them off. Even dense water vapor emanating from a hot shower of water boiling on the stove may sound an alarm. So in either case, make sure your home is properly ventilated and/or install a whole-house dehumidifier.

    1. Bugs

    If you own a home, you know that small insects get into all kinds of dark crevices. That can include your smoke detector where they can trigger false alarms. So, if you’ve checked off the other reasons for alarms, open your device and inspect it to see if any bugs have moved in and evict them.

    1. Chemical Fumes

    Strong cleaning chemicals that use bleach or ammonia, paint fumes (especially oil-based), and other harsh chemicals can trigger a smoke detector. And if they’re strong enough to trigger an alarm, they’re likely not good for you to breathe in either. So make sure there’s always plenty of ventilation when using these types of products.

    1. Dust and Dirt

    Photoelectric smoke alarms may misconstrue dust in or nearby the device as smoke since dust particles are similar to smoke particles as they can reflect light. This is easily fixed by vacuuming out the unit or using an electronic aerosol cleaner to blow out any dust or dirt.

    1. Low Batteries

    When your smoke alarm doesn’t blare but sits there chirping away like a bird, that is a built-in warning sign that the battery is low. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you, and more importantly, that you can count on your alarm by replacing the battery once or twice a year.

    1. Age

    Smoke alarm sensors wear out over time so their general lifespan is about 10 years. When they do, they may give off false alarms or worse, not work at all. So replace any old units with new ones immediately.

    Smoke and Fire Damage

    Sometimes fires spread so quickly that even though a smoke alarm has worked properly and all in the home have evacuated the premises, serious damage can still happen before the fire is extinguished. If this has happened to you, call Chicago’s premier fire damage restoration company, ServiceMaster By Simons. Our trained and certified technicians will make the clean-up and restoration process as painless as possible and get your life back to normal quickly. Call 855-9-SIMONS today!



    • Nasutsa Mabwa

      Nasutsa Mabwa is President of ServiceMaster by Simons, a MBE/WBE City of Chicago and State of Illinois certified firm. She is a 2020 Daily Herald Business Ledger C-Suite awardee, a member of Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 and a 2018 ServiceMaster(c) Achiever Award recipient. She is a Civic Federation Board Member, an Advisory Board Member for as President Elect on the Executive Committee for the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. She is IICRC certified for WRT & FSRT.

      About ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons
      Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving both Cook and Lake County, Illinois. Recently, the company was awarded a variety of honors, including the SB100 Best of Small Business Award Winner 2021, Bronze Stevie® Award in the Female Entrepreneur of the Year category in the 18th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business, recipient of the 2020 Better Business Bureau's Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics, and the recipient of the 2020 Skokie Business of the Year Award, Honorable Mention Category. Restoration By Simons provides disaster restoration services including water and flood damage restoration, fire and smoke damage restoration, mold remediation, to residential and commercial customers in both Cook and Lake County IL.

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