No Smoke, No Fire... Just Noise

Paul does the touch-up painting while rest of the family offers advice.

Paul does the touch-up painting while rest of the family offers advice.

The smoke alarm sounded during the night at about 3am. We got up in a hurry, sleep-dazed, but alert enough to notice there was no smoke and no fire. These hard-wired alarms all talk to each other and before we knew it, the word got out and all six alarms in the house were blaring. We stuck our noses out the front door. Was there the faintest smoky smell in the air or was it our imaginations? We walked outside, but none of the neighbors' houses was on fire. After shutting the front door and the bedroom windows, the alarms stopped. Blessed peace!

We trundled back into bed only to be awakened at about 4am, by another round of alarms. This time, David got out the ladder and stuck his head into the attic, just in case. Nothing amiss. We checked outside and inside, checked the garage and all was fine. The alarms went silent once again.

At 4:45 when the alarms all sounded one more time, we’d about had it. After a quick reconnaissance, David disconnected the culprit in Paul’s bedroom and noted that it had been installed in 2007 … 11 years ago. We crawled back into bed till 5:30, the wake-up time for our morning walk. We got up groggy and grouchy.

Later in the morning, the boys dutifully pulled a few more of the alarms down and noted that they were all out of date, then made a trip to Lowe’s to buy six replacement smoke alarms as well as two CO monitors. When taking one of the CO monitors down, David noted with amazement that it had neither a battery nor was it ever connected. Hmmm!

You’d expect that replacing standard smoke alarms and CO monitors wouldn’t be difficult … and buying them wasn’t. It was the installation that posed the problem. First of all, the living room and family room have cathedral ceilings, so hauling out the “big” ladder was required. Then the mounting holes in the new CO monitors did not match the holes in the ceiling boxes even though they were the same brand. Really? This necessitated fabricating a new wood base, screwing it to the ceiling, painting it and then installing the new alarms … twice! Finally, all the new hardwired smoke alarms had different AC connectors than the old ones, so all six required disconnecting the old connectors from the wire nuts and reconnecting the new ones. The entire replacement process took hours instead of a couple minutes.

We used to say “nothing’s ever easy on a boat”. We might have to revise that statement a bit … after a nap.