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Fire and smoke alarms. You have to have them, and boy will they come in handy if God forbid there ever is a fire in your home. But a faulty fire alarm, or even one that works perfectly well, can be a nuisance if you don’t know exactly why it seems to be sounding without cause or how to turn it off.
And while it may be a good thing for your fire or smoke alarm to be a bit on the sensitive side, you might not feel as positive about yours if it starts to scream out everytime you boil a pot of water, or it catches the breeze from a strong wind through an open window (YES, this does happen).
When it comes to fire and smoke alarm systems, there are myriad models. Still, most have a disable feature should you find yourself in a situation similar to those mentioned above. Here are the four most common ways typical smoke alarms can be silenced before you run the risk of disturbing the peace in your neighborhood.
If you smoke alarm is battery powered, the process is fairly simple. First, locate the particular alarm that has been set off. IN addition to the sound, the unit in question will be emitting some sort of flashing light. With battery powered systems, when one unit detects smoke or fire, it will not set off the others around your house. This makes it easy to locate the alarm that has been set so you can silence it quickly, before any potential panic is stirred in your loved ones, or the family dog goes into panic mode.
On the unit, there is likely a reset button, labeled as such. Hold down the button for up to fifteen seconds. Older models will feature this button on the back of the unit, so you will have to unscrew it from the wall or ceiling where it is mounted.
If the reset button fails to silence the alarm, it may be that the batteries themselves are on their last leg. Replace the batteries and try resetting again. This should turn the alarm sound off indefinitely.
In the case that neither batteries nor reset works, the smoke detector is likely faulty. Toss it and buy a new one. You can find any battery operated model at a local hardware store or supermarket in the $10-$50 range.
Hardwired smoke alarms are integrated, meaning they communicate to one another over their wiring. That said, unlike battery powered detectors, when one goes off, they all go off. That said, you will need to disable them all.
To disable them, repeat the reset button procedure for all the alarms in your home. A good proactive measure to take before this happens is to make sure you know the exact location of all units in your home.
If you know your system is hardwired, and still only one is sounding, it may be a sign that the one unit sounding is malfunctioning. While it is hardwired, this one sounding unit, like its counterparts, has a backup battery system. Sometimes, one will sound if it is detected that those backup batteries are running low on juice.
If resetting or replacing batteries for the hardwired alarm does not work, you can try resetting at the electric panel itself. Head to the breaker box and locate the switch that controls the fire alarm system. They should all be on one breaker, but could also be hardwired to the various locations where they are mounted in the house and their respective breakers.
If still, the alarms are active after the hard, breaker box reset, you can try disconnecting the wires at the unit themselves. Twist the unit off its mount and remove the wiring connecting the unit to the home’s electrical system.
If the alarm in question is one at your workplace or industrial building, it will be controlled at a primary panel box. This box looks much like a normal electric panel but is specific to the alarm system.
Fire alarm panels are usually encased in protective boxes, which require a key to breach. There will also be a verification code of some kind that is needed before you can access the controls. From there, follow the instructions marked on the inside of the penal door. They should outline all possible procedures with step by step instructions.
If you are at home, and know your alarm is liable to sound any time someone walks by too quickly, you may want to learn how to temporarily disable the unit. This will help you conduct normal household functions like cooking or airing out your home in the early Spring without causing chaos.
Most modern models have a silence button for just this purpose. The button will disable the alarm’s functionality for up to 30 minutes allowing you to purposefully keep the alarm from falsely sounding. Just make sure you do not fully disable your smoke detectors or forget to reset them once the intentional smoke from the stove top has cleared. For all the potential nuisance, these alams make up for two times over in safety and hazard prevention.