Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Sweetest Sound

There is a new sound in our house. It's the sweet, sweet sound of silence.

For the last few months, one of the fire alarms in our basement has been telling us that it's time to change its battery. You know, that lovely shrill, short chirp that is impossible to ignore.

chirp.......chirp......chirp........ every. few. minutes.

I found the alarm pretty easily - well sort of. It was in the storage room, the unfinished part of our basement which houses our furnace and sump pump. There are actually two alarms on the ceiling in there, about 2 feet apart. One is a standard hardwired unit, the other is part of the alarm system. So I stood there for ages, up on a chair between the alarms, listening. Which one was it? It was sure hard to tell! Oh well, I changed both their batteries, just in case. Chirp! I took apart the alarms, dusted them, checked the wires and put everything back. Chirp! I voiced my frustration to my husband. He changed the batteries. Chirp! Finally I unscrewed the things from the ceiling and totally disassembled them. We're talking naked wires hanging from the ceiling. The chirping continued! What?! How can a wire chirp? Did we have a haunted fire alarm? I wondered who I could call - my father-in-law, an electrician, a fireman? No, I couldn't - it's too embarrassing!

Fast forward 2 months. The chirping is still there. Frankly it has become a touchy subject in our house. I'm annoyed that my husband can't fix it. Our dog has been reduced trembling whimpers. The children have been avoiding the basement entirely. My right eye has developed a twitch.

Yesterday I had a new idea - maybe the alarm is chirping because it's been disabled. A failsafe chirp. Sort of a "You are not protected. Someone has ripped your fire alarm into pieces" warning. So last night, I went through the whole routine again. I installed new new batteries, inspected all the parts and pieces, wiggled wires, and put the alarms back up. As I listened for the telltale chirp, I heard it - a little closer to the ground then it had been before. I started looking around and focused on several storage boxes that were sitting, um, underneath the smoke alarms. There, hiding deep in a storage box, I discovered a third smoke detector, chirping. I rushed it from the room, put in a new battery and put it out in our garage. Far, far from me.

Ah, finally. Silence. Sweet, sweet silence.

By the way, this if you haven't changed your batteries on your smoke detectors, do so immediately. Not only might it save your life, it might save your sanity.


Alisa said...

We had that same issue last summer. Except it was the CO2 detector in our trailer parked in the driveway. We could constantly hear it in the house and were really getting bugged by not being able to find it! We get a good laugh out of it now, but then? Whoo!

sapphire443 said...

Hahaha...funny story!!

April said...

I know!!! I can never figure out which alarm is chirping and they only seem to chirp at three o'clock in the morning!

No wonder you look so stressed all the time.....JK, JK (as our daughters would say).

idreamicanfly said...

We had one go off in the middle of the night once, at the top of our 17 foot ceiling. Picture Andy and I at 3:00 am, balancing on a 17 foot ladder (well, Andy balancing, me bracing) pulling this frigging smoke detector down. We relegated it to the storage cage in the condo's basement.

idreamicanfly said...

I suppose I should mention that we did put a new one up. Somewhere that we could *reach*. What is it with these developers? Who dangles a smoke detector at the top of a 17 foot ceiling?

Katharine said...

Great story! You must have looked stress free the whole time because you were taking out your aggression (about the chirping sound) at kick boxing class. Yippee for silence!!! How do I disable my preschooler?