There are homeowner, rental and condo owning people. This is very close to red wine vs. white wine people without the talent of fixing things involved. I’ve owned a home for the past 40 years and I clearly understand a hammer is not my best friend. Since I have no choice, I do my best to keep the house standing.
The other day my wife and I were enjoying a quiet evening of TV and some wine. The evening couldn’t have been more relaxing. This almost Zen-like mode came to an abrupt end when we heard our first chirp. I knew exactly what it was because it happens every time the batteries in our smoke alarms run out.
I told my wife to relax and then proceeded to get a 9-volt battery from our large kitchen drawer. Everyone on this planet has one of these drawers that contain everything one could ever need and some stuff you will never use. Actually I was proud of myself because I actually had a 9-volt battery that was still in date.
I then proudly brought the battery to our TV room, opened the side of the smoke alarm, replaced the battery and then poured my wife and I a second glass of wine. A few minutes later we heard another chirp. I was confused and my wife gave me that, “really” look that I’ve grown accustomed to.
Since all of our smoke alarms are electrically attached I then decided to change all the batteries in all of the alarms. This did not take long but as soon as I sat down in my chair we heard our third chirp. The mystery continued.
The next day I did what most homeowners do with a problem, I Googgled why a smoke alarm would chirp with new batteries and learned that most smoke alarms have a life expectancy of ten years. Since I owned my home for over 20 years and have never changed any alarms I thought I had found the problem.
Off to Lowes I drove, in order to find replacements for all three of my alarms. The choices were extreme but after searching the warehouse store, for at least fifteen minutes, I found someone who actually knew something about smoke alarms.
He suggested one that that actually tells you where the fire is for the small sum of $150.00 each. I purchased one that simply blared out a loud sound if there was any smoke to be found. Crazy I am, stupid I am not.
I spent the next few hours removing the original alarms from the three floors of my home. The connections were comparatively easy to install since they were color-coded. The problem was the base of the old alarms did not fit the new alarms.
After taking down some good chunks of my ceiling I finally got all the alarms connected and tested. I was actually quite proud of myself. A few minutes later we heard the chirp continue. I was stumped but my wife was not surprised.
The chirping continued even though I checked the batteries to make sure they were installed correctly. I sat on my stairs staring up at the noisy alarms not having a clue as to what the problem was.
Since my wife was getting annoyed at the prospect of having a chirping sound stay with her forever I decided to take all the alarms down. I disconnected all the wiring and took out the batteries in case the disconnection caused the sound. I even placed them all under a pillow to make sure I stopped the chirp.
Sitting on my steps with a fresh glass of Scotch in my hand I stared up at the hole where my alarm once hung. The chirping sound continued. How could this be. There were no alarms. In fact, the chirping sound increased in frequency to the point my wife decided to go out shopping.
Actually she just wanted out of a house that she now considered haunted. I then wondered if the contractor I hired 20 years earlier had hid an alarm underneath the suspended ceiling. I then proceeded to take down the tiles in order to find the phantom alarm. None was found.
Since my neighbor is a fire-fighter I decided to give him a call. He checked out the wiring and, as I sat away from the alarms in my living room, he came up the stairs and showed me a carbon monoxide monitor that was plugged in beneath the smoke alarms. I had assumed were making the chirping sound. He smiled and wished me luck. I just spent two days of my life looking for a chirp that was plugged in to a wall.
There are homeowner, rental, and condo owning people. As I connected my last wire on my final smoke alarm a strange smell was emanating from where my furnace lived. I just hope I don’t run out of Scotch.
The mystery of the phantom chirp by Jim Fabiano.
Jim Fabiano is a retired teacher living in York, Maine
You can contact Jim at: firstname.lastname@example.org