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The dreaded "CHIRP"

I shouldn’t attribute such malice to an object but I hate the smoke detectors in my apartment. Last night they decided to stage a revolt or at least one of them decided to stage a revolt in anticipation of April fool’s day. Rather than exploding in a terrible crying sound that could only be met by a replacement of its beloved battery it decided to make a chirping sound intermittently. Now a chirp every six hours would be tolerable in that it could be ignored and a regular chirp every thirty seconds would also be tolerable in that it could be localized and dealt with. But instead the smoke detector in question decided to chirp intermittently and randomly in bursts. So it would chirp every fifteen seconds for two minutes and then stop. So last night I heard it well enough to know that it could wake me up but not well enough to figure out which one it was. Tonight the chirping awoke me at 1am and then again at 2:12 am. Now here I am at 2:54 am trying to figure out which one it is and it has stopped chirping just when I went to hunt it down. There are only three smoke detectors so in theory it shouldn’t be too hard to locate which one is making the ruckus but the chirp is so loud that it seems like it could come from any room. Had it made the noise in the morning or during the day when I was home yesterday I could easily have invested twenty minutes listening and wandering through the apartment to figure out which room it was most likely coming from. But at 1 in the morning I am apt to try to ignore it and when it stops after a few minutes having disturbed my sleep then I can go back to sleep and ignore it. So now I have just gotten aggravated by it to the point where I refuse to sleep until it begins another session of noise making and partying. It sounds like a bird is trapped inside of a chimney when it goes off and if we had a chimney I wouldn’t have suspected that some evil person had designed this device to become the smoke detector anti-Christ in the middle of the night. Why can’t they make them turn blue when the battery is low or blink insistently after chirping. My guess is they are trying to save me from the wacko arsonist who will deactivate my smoke detectors by lowering the batteries in an attempt to murder me. But it’s not like the detector isn’t going to freak out and cause massive havoc when the battery first runs out. My recollection from having ignored one of these mother’s is that they do that if you don’t change the battery. So why not just play an MP3 to inform me that the battery is low.

So I hunted it down. One particular chirp was enough for me to know that it was right overhead in my bedroom. It doesn’t take long to fix the battery problem – if you happen to be able to find 9 Volt batteries in your cupboard carefully filed among the giant zip-lock bag of batteries. I knew we had them somewhere but when you are looking for a 9 Volt battery at 3 AM that is the time when you find batteries that could replace the car unlocking mechanism on your keychain, a mother load of D batteries to power a baby swing, and those AAA suckers that go into the back of the wireless optical mouse. But the 9 Volt batteries that power things like the perpetual motion magnet swing toy. Those go into hiding. So I rifled through the battery looking for the one weapon that could defeat the beeping monster. I had to stop to take a break to read the back of the detector since I wasn’t having much luck finding it food. It offers such wisdom as the obvious – “Periodic flashing (45 sec.) of the red LED, indicates that the alarm is operating. An Intermittent “CHIRP” indicates a low battery…. This device contains .9 micro curies of Americium 241, a radioactive material…. SEE OWNER’S MANUAL FOR COMPLETE INSTRUCTIONS.. WEEKLY TESTING IS REQUIRED”.

So now that I have been convinced unwittingly to read the back of my smoke detector I learn that I am holding on to a radioactive object. .9 micro curies doesn’t sound like much radioactivity but I wondered what they need it for in order to detect smoke. I also had to imagine the poor obsessive compulsive schmuck that tests their smoke detectors weekly as is required of him by the detector police in order to stay current with the smoke detector regulations. But as I pondered this I was still rifling through bags of batteries and I did find a pack of those great 9Volt batteries to provide it with new life. It is the second of three to start chirping so the third one, in Madeline’s room, should be easy to locate when it begins to starve. I would change it now but I figured I would let it suffer for a while. Plus it is 3:15 AM.



I found this hilarious account of smoke alarm chirping by Googling "Smoke alarm won't stop chirping"! Our new house has 7 smoke alarms and I thought I'd nailed the one that was chirping only to discover that the one in the next room was the true culprit. I can't find any 9 Volt batteries either. I laughed out loud all the way through your little essay. Thanks!

I also googled a similar phrase, "smoke alarm beeps intermittently" only to find out that it is most definitely a dying battery. What a shame it is 3:55am and I can't get any sleep because of this damn screeching. If only I had some 9-volts.

Boy!!! I'm glad I'm not the only one who is been bugged by the dreaded chirping of smoke detectors. We have eleven in our house . Just when I think I've got them under control, one of those little birdies start up again. Solution: Change the batteries all at one time. Once you hear one birdie again, replace all again. This can get a little expensive but it's worth the peace. May God Bless your home.

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