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Posted By: oc-nj 08757 Smokey problems - 06/11/04 10:41 PM
I’m having an issue with smoke detectors that's making me nuts!!!
In a new home I recently wired one of the locations of smoke detectors appears to be going off at random times (according to the home owner) for no reason that I can tell. All of the smokes are jumped out with 14-3. One in the middle of the chain will go off every once in a while but it will not set the others off with it. The one that started the problem is a smoke / carbon combo and I replaced it along with the wire harness (figuring that it was a bad one) twice. That did not work so I swapped it out with a regular smoke to see if it was in fact detecting carbon, however the smoke goes off occasionally as well. I can't imagine that all 4 smoke / carbon combo's and regular smoke are bad, and if the one goes off, they all should, but that is not happening.
Has anyone else run into this??? If so, what did you do????

Posted By: nesparky Re: Smokey problems - 06/12/04 08:21 PM
Is the one going off any where near a shower or wash machine or a kitchen? Any place where steam or water vapor can get to the smoke? Also what else is on the smoke detector circuit?

[This message has been edited by nesparky (edited 06-12-2004).]
Posted By: oc-nj 08757 Re: Smokey problems - 06/12/04 08:46 PM
I put the smokes on their own circuit. The one that I'm having the problem with is about 7 feet from the hall bath. No one was showering during any of the times it went off.
Posted By: andyp95 Re: Smokey problems - 06/12/04 09:52 PM
Are all the smoke detectors the same brand?I've heard of sometimes incompatibility issues when mixing brands.Myself,I like to put a light or something else that is easily noticed on with my smokes,that way if the circuit breaker trips ,a problem is more easier noticed by the homeowner.
Posted By: oc-nj 08757 Re: Smokey problems - 06/13/04 12:30 AM
The light sounds like a good idea, I might use that...
All of the smokes are made by BRK
Posted By: Attic Rat Re: Smokey problems - 06/13/04 03:20 PM
... Are you mixing Ionization with Photo-electric types..?? I've heard that that can result in nuisance alarming..Good Luck,let us know if you find the cause..
Posted By: aland Re: Smokey problems - 06/13/04 11:14 PM
oc-nj, Sounds a bit strange if all the detectors are linked but only one is going off, how many detectors have you got on the system and what is the total cable length? If I remember correctly there is a limit to the circuit length. Try a call to BRK.
Posted By: oc-nj 08757 Re: Smokey problems - 06/13/04 11:55 PM
There is 7 total on the system. I can't understand how only one goes off either. I might end up just replacing them all to see what happens. Either that or running new wire out of the location that the problem is in.
Posted By: aland Re: Smokey problems - 06/14/04 01:11 AM
oc-nj, Sould be ok with 7 BRK recomend max 12 on system, should not be aproblem with mixig different types on the system i.e. ionisation and optical, detectors should not be within 3 meters of bathroom, moisture laden air can have an efect on them. You could try swaping it for a heat detector thy are not so critical on humidity or condesation.
Posted By: hbiss Re: Smokey problems - 06/14/04 01:33 AM
Have you actually seen this happen while you were there or is this just something that has been related to you by the HO?

VERY strange that the problem persists even though you changed the offending detector several times. It would be IMPOSSIBLE for all to be defective especially when you substituted a smoke only for the combo. I would also say that it would not be possible for another detector or a wiring problem to cause this if all test normally when you press the test buttons and they all have been wired according to the BRK instructions. Just to be sure give BRK tech support a call at 1-800-323-9005 and ask if any of this is possible.

So, before you go chasing your tail with this (with only the HO's "diagnosis" to go on) and start replacing wiring or detectors, consider first if the HO is actually correct. Something is probably going on, but not bad smokes.
I'm willing to bet that that smoke is going into alarm for whatever reason and the others are also (as normal) and the HO just isn't picking up on it. That high frequency squeal can be very misleading as to where it is coming from.

Posted By: oc-nj 08757 Re: Smokey problems - 06/15/04 12:05 AM
I have not seen this happen, however the mother and kids (3 and 5 years) all claim to have been woken up in the middle of the night over the weekend by the problem. I swapped them all out today to see what happens. I'll report in tomorrow with the outcome.

Thanks for all of the responses on this!!

Posted By: hbiss Re: Smokey problems - 06/15/04 02:58 AM
...however the mother and kids (3 and 5 years)all claim to have been woken up in the middle of the night...

I rest my case. [Linked Image]

Unfortunately I see this a lot. I know we all want to please the customer but wild goose chases cost money.

I learned a long time ago that what the customer describes is most often than not nothing like what the problem really is. If I can't see the problem occur for myself I take what the customer has to say with a grain of salt. There is just no justification in spending a lot of of time and money changing things out without first having first hand knowledge of the problem then logically troubleshooting it.

Sorry, but the opinions of a 3 and 5 year old as well as a groggy adult would not be grounds for me to spend a lot of time on this. I think you went beyond "the call of duty" here given the circumstances. If the problem still occurs after changing all detectors I would politely tell them that you will have to see it for yourself before you can determine what the problem is.

Posted By: srscott Re: Smokey problems - 06/16/04 02:17 AM
We have had a problem (up nothern Illinois) with condensation dripping on smoke detectors, from our conduit in attic. Duct seal or running all conduits into sides usually works. Could be an issue with NM too, device allows different temperatures to mix via air openings in device. Some detectors come with gasket, possibility this is cause? Good luck. Scott. God knows I've been chasing bad smokes around, usually on Friday nights or Sunday!
Posted By: oc-nj 08757 Re: Smokey problems - 06/18/04 01:58 AM
Well…. The customer was right. There was definitely a bad smokey somewhere in the bunch. After I replaced all of them in their house, I installed them into another house as an experiment to see if I would get the same result of if she was just a nutcase looking for attention.

As soon as I turned on the breakers to test out the house the smoke alarms went off nonstop. I didn’t take the time to find out what one was the problem, I just ripped them out and installed new ones.
Posted By: hbiss Re: Smokey problems - 06/18/04 05:33 PM
...Well, the customer was right.


Contrary to what they claimed, they ALL went into alarm didn't they? If you were told that in the beginning you would have replaced them all and been out of there a long time ago. How many hours, trips and $$$ did it cost you playing with that one detector because THEY said it was the bad one?

The customer is rarely right and if you base your actions on what they report rather than confirming the problem yourself its going to cost you.


[This message has been edited by hbiss (edited 06-18-2004).]
Posted By: e57 Re: Smokey problems - 06/19/04 09:14 AM
I usually use the battey back up type, and one bad battery will set a warning alert, and occasionally set them all off. Sometimes customers will reffer to the "battery warning beep" as it going off too.

Also, if one has no power, and the rest do, this will set it off randomly too. Check the status light on all of them. BRK is green for OK, red for no power. I had a hair puller like this once due to a bad harness.
Posted By: oc-nj 08757 Re: Smokey problems - 06/20/04 01:14 AM
We've come accross a few with bad harness in the past. That's probably what the problem was, however it was driving me nuts not being able to figure what one was causing the problem so I'm just returning the lot of them....
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