Chirping and false smoke alarms annoying you? Here’s what to do.

Consumer Reports offers smoke detector recommendations for your family’s protection

Disabling your home's smoke detector because it chirps or falsely goes off when you're making dinner is a risky move. Consumer Reports explains what to do about the most common triggers and what kind of detector offers the best protection for your family.
Disabling your home's smoke detector because it chirps or falsely goes off when you're making dinner is a risky move. Consumer Reports explains what to do about the most common triggers and what kind of detector offers the best protection for your family.

SAN ANTONIO – It’s annoying when your home’s smoke detector goes off just because it sensed your cooking. But, disabling a chirping or sounding alarm can be risky.

Consumer Reports says you should always assume there’s a fire when you hear an alarm. When you determine that you’re safe, then you can get to the root cause.

“Some of the things that will cause an alarm to go off are dying batteries, steam from a shower, dust, or even spiders inside,” said Consumer Reports Tester Bernie Deitrick.

As for the fixes, let’s start with an easy one: the battery. Replace it every six months. If it’s sealed in the unit, replace the unit every 10 years.

To reduce other alarm triggers, it helps to understand how detectors work. There are two main types: photoelectric and ionization.

“Photoelectric alarms respond to particles in the air created by smoldering fires or steamy showers. They’re less prone to false alarms caused by cooking, so consider them for areas near kitchens,” Deitrick said.

Ionization alarms, on the other hand, are triggered by the small particles given off by an open flame, so an active kitchen will often produce false alarms. They’re better installed near steamy bathrooms.

For the best protection, Consumer Reports recommends dual sensor alarms, which use both types of technology, or a combination of photoelectric and ionization alarms throughout your home.

Consumer Reports recommends these two:

  • First Alert 3120B: Dual Sensor Hardwired Smoke Alarm
  • Kidde P12010: Dual Sensor AC Hardwired Interconnect Smoke Alarm

Consumer Reports says don’t install smoke alarms near windows, doors or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.

How many detectors do you need? The National Fire Protection Association recommends one in each bedroom, one outside each sleeping area and one on each level of the house.


About the Author:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.