This weekend, our tamper-proof carbon monoxide/smoke detectors turned into collective tormenting devices when one decided that it was malfunctioning.
Do you know about these fancy-schmancy smoke detectors they use in newer houses? I didn't until we bought this new house. First of all, they are not just smoke detectors, they are carbon monoxide detectors as well. But they LOOK just like the $10 smoke detector that you can buy at any big box store.
They are wired into the regular 120 volt electrical system of the house. If the power is out, they run on backup 9 volt batteries. We have seven of them throughout the house.
The best (or worst) part is that THEY COMMUNICATE with each other through the house's ground wire (I think). If one is triggered, they ALL sound the alarm. If you unplug one, the others freak out and sound their alarms. If you try to silence one, it will only silence itself very temporarily. They have a very a complicated system of chirps versus alarms versus lights flashing this color or that color or solid lights – you get the idea – basically, all this to tell you what type of problem they detect.
Our malfunctioning device just wanted to let us know that it was malfunctioning. It was located outside our bedroom door. It chirped three times every minute. If it had simply died, we could have silenced it for 48 hours. If we tried to disconnect it, we would sound the collective alarm. Instead we had to listen to it chirp until we replaced it with a new model. The problem? None of the nearby stores carried the same model for replacement.
Our resident auditory expert decided to line a cardboard box with soft material and tape it to the ceiling, muffling the chirping detector overnight. Ummm... It was NOT a very effective sound insulating box.
2,160 chirps (and no sleep later), we finally found a replacement detector. It would have been good to have a spare one.
Also, these detectors? They're kind of brilliant in design. But they are just as often maddening.
Did I mention that our exchange student kept setting off the smoke detector alarms with whatever smell-y cologne-y product he was using? Can you imagine?