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Interconnected fire alarm woes

GHoosdumGHoosdum Icrontian
edited Nov 2016 in Hardware

Alright, I stuck this in "Hardware" because it is, but it's not PC hardware.

My home has an interconnected fire alarm system. It's turned out to be a nightmare. Periodically, the entire system will false alarm, and I have had to run frantically through the house disconnecting fire alarm units until I locate the offending unit. Disconnecting the unit that triggered the false alarm each time restores the quiet to my house, but this has happened enough times that it's making me consider stop using interconnected alarms and going back to independent units, which is supposedly less safe. However, it would also drive me less insane, since it would be easier to locate false alarming units.

At this point, I've done pretty much everything short of replacing the infrastructure wiring. Over the past year, I have replaced nearly every unit with brand new ones (and in some cases switched from ionization alarms to photoelectric due to some research I dug up on delayed response times on ionization units when there's a smoldering fire), replaced all the batteries in the bunch last week, and even had two of the units replaced under warranty by the manufacturer. Last week we had a false alarm while we were in church, and the neighbors called the fire department. They identified the relatively new CO detector (with a CO reading of zero) to be the culprit and the manufacturer replaced it under warranty.

Today I had another false alarm. The readout on the CO alarm was reading "FIRE" so I felt safe that the CO level in the house is not a danger. When I located the offending unit, it turned out to be one of the most recently replaced units, a photoelectric sensor model. Manufacture date is within an year, and these things are supposed to last ten years. I pulled the battery and it reads 9.44 volts with my multimeter, so the battery is good (it damn well better be, I replaced it last week!) I also put my inductive circuit tester up to the wiring harness that plugs into the fire alarm and it beeped hot, so it doesn't seem like the infrastructure wiring is the problem either. At this point I've had false alarms caused by all three alarm types in the house: ionization, CO, and photoelectric.

Is there anything else you fine folks suggest I might do to troubleshoot root cause on these maddening false alarms?

Comments

  • LincLinc Bard Detroit, MI Icrontian
    edited Nov 2016

    I have a house full of wirelessly connected Kidde alarms (2 per floor + 2 in carriage house = 10 connected units) and have never had a false alarm in 4 years. The craziest thing that's happened is Aaron managing to set it off via sawdust in the carriage house; he covers it now while he's using the saw table.

    My biggest grievance is trying to track down which unit the once-a-minute low battery beep is coming from (while Rocky cowers because it terrifies him for some reason). I usually just replace them all once the first one starts doing it to spare myself the grief.

  • drasnordrasnor Hawthorne, CA Icrontian

    Make and model of all your kit?

  • SonorousSonorous F@H Fanatic Virginia Icrontian

    Have you done a continuity check on the wiring between the units? Also look for weird voltage along said wires? Maybe something is under or over on voltage and causing weirdness?

  • ardichokeardichoke Buttes Master B Lansing, MI Icrontian

    @Linc said:
    (while Rocky cowers because it terrifies him for some reason).

    Not really surprising, it's a strange high pitched sound and dogs have better hearing than we do. Probably is pretty painful, or at least downright scary, for him. My dog also wigs out about the smoke detectors making noise sometimes. First time he ever heard one going off, he stood under it and howled at it. Literally the only time we've ever heard him howl.

    As for the original topic, unless you have the slowest burning fire of all time, it sounds like electrical problems to me... Probably need an electrician to look at the wiring in the house. That, or it's ghosts :wink:

  • GHoosdumGHoosdum Icrontian

    @Sonorous said:
    Have you done a continuity check on the wiring between the units? Also look for weird voltage along said wires? Maybe something is under or over on voltage and causing weirdness?

    Good call. I might have to strip some of the wiring harness because I can't get my multimeter probe to read in the plug ends of the harness since they're so small.

    @ardichoke said:

    As for the original topic, unless you have the slowest burning fire of all time, it sounds like electrical problems to me... Probably need an electrician to look at the wiring in the house. That, or it's ghosts :wink:

    That's what I was afraid of. (Electrical problems, not ghosts)

  • ardichokeardichoke Buttes Master B Lansing, MI Icrontian

    @GHoosdum said:

    @ardichoke said:

    As for the original topic, unless you have the slowest burning fire of all time, it sounds like electrical problems to me... Probably need an electrician to look at the wiring in the house. That, or it's ghosts :wink:

    That's what I was afraid of. (Electrical problems, not ghosts)

    You should be more afraid of the ghosts, paranormal exterminators are far more rare and charge more than electricians.

    CBGHoosdum
  • LincLinc Bard Detroit, MI Icrontian

    @ardichoke said:
    paranormal exterminators are far more rare and charge more than electricians.

    Fortunately (?) we live with one.

    ardichokeGHoosdum
  • GHoosdumGHoosdum Icrontian

    @drasnor said:
    Make and model of all your kit?

    Hah. I don't know how I missed your message.

    It's all Kidde brand, here are the models:
    One CO detector KN-COP-IC
    Three photoelectric detectors p12040
    Three ionization detectors i12080

  • JokkeJokke Bergen, Norway Icrontian

    Granted, I don't know this system, but some sort of terminal could at least save you the grief of checking every sensor. Alarm goes off, check terminal, go straight to culprit.

    GHoosdum
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