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Your smoke detector is there to help save your life by alerting ADT to the first signs of heat or fire, upon which we dispatch emergency services. But a number of other factors can also trigger your smoke detector, resulting in a false smoke alarm. False smoke alarms can be a nuisance, cost you money in municipal fines, and even more than that, waste vital emergency resources!

So keep your home safe and secure while helping avoid false smoke alarms by steering clear of the following triggers.

1. Smoke

If your culinary creation begins to burn, it may set off your smoke detector, even if there isn't a discernible amount of smoke in the air. Just a hint of burnt food can set off your alarm. In addition, if your chimney damper is not properly open, smoke from a fireplace can make its way into your home and also set off your smoke detector. Here’s what you can do:

  • Never leave your cooking unattended. If smoke does occur while cooking, be sure to open windows and your stovetop vent fan to diffuse it. If you don't have a fan, consider installing one. It will keep your kitchen ceiling and walls cleaner and cut down on smoke that can cause false alarms.
  • Before fireplace season begins, make sure your chimney is clean and clear of obstructions and that the damper is properly adjusted.

2. Humidity, steam and water

High humidity can trigger smoke detectors. How? Most smoke detectors work by measuring changes in the air composition, and cannot distinguish between smoke and steam. So, steam from something as harmless as your morning shower or cooking pasta can sound the alarm. Water can trigger an alarm by way of a roof leak, for example. If the leak is near your smoke detector, water can trickle in to the device, causing damage to the electrical wiring. Here’s what you can do:

  • If your smoke detector is located just outside the bathroom, don't leave the door open during extended showers.
  • When cooking, ensure steam does not build up near a smoke detector… turn on your stovetop fan vent or simply cover your pot and lower the heat to reduce escaping steam.
  • Always check your ceiling for discoloration that indicates leakage. If you suspect that water from a leak has seeped into your smoke detector, have it replaced immediately.

3. Dust

Even the cleanest homes can harbour dust. Dust that covers your smoke detector or its internal sensor chamber can trigger an alarm. Here’s what you can do:

  • Clean around your smoke detector with a soft, clean cloth or a vacuum cleaner. Opening up your alarm and cleaning any dust will also help as this is where dust often accumulates.
  • Before doing renovations that can cause debris build up in your detector, place your system on test mode.

4. Chemical fumes

Bug sprays, cleaning chemicals and even oil-based paints can release fumes that can set off a smoke alarm. Here’s what you can do:

  • Place your system on test mode before using any product that will release a significant amount of strong chemical fumes.

5. Power interruption

Hardwired smoke detectors are powered by your home electrical system, so could be affected by an intermittent power interruption, which causes the same effect as a power failure. Upon power restoration, your detector may alarm briefly. Here’s what you can do:

  • If your wired smoke alarm has given off a false alarm without the presence of smoke, humidity, water, dust or chemical fumes, you may have experienced a power interruption. Although power interruptions may not be avoidable, you can opt for a wireless smoke detector which relies on batteries. Call us to learn more.

Test your smoke detector!

  • Your smoke detector requires regular testing to make sure it functions properly and will be there when you need it most. Test your smoke detector each month by following the instructions in your user manual.
  • It’s also important to change your smoke detector batteries twice a year. A great reminder is daylight saving time... simply change your batteries when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.

For more information on 24/7 smoke alarm monitoring from ADT, Canada’s #1 home security provider, call 800-653-9111 today.

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