Smoke alarms need to be sensitive in order to provide enough of a warning to the sleeping occupants of a home that fire danger may be imminent. The fact that they do go off is a good sign.
Generally speaking, smoke alarms do not go off for no reason. They are very sensitive devices designed to pick up traces of airborne particles.
Also, as the older ionisation alarms are phased out and photo electric alarms become the new norm, you need to be aware that any airborne particle that resembles smoke may in fact trigger the alarm. Photo-electric alarms contain a tiny light beam and a sensor and are triggered when particles interrupt this light beam.
There could be a number of causes for alarms going off other than a house fire.
Here are some of the common causes:
- Smoke in the air due to bush fires or burn offs in surrounding areas.
- Smoke inside the house due to using a grill or oven.
- High levels of airborne dust.
- Exhaust fumes.
- Steam from a bathroom or laundry.
- Insects nesting inside the alarm.
As alarms are electrical devices, they contain simple circuit boards and a number of wires. With age and handling these components can degrade or become damaged. Therefore, It is also possible that alarms going off for no reason is due to there being a fault in the alarm. A smoke alarm technician will be able to determine if there is a fault.
False alarms can be annoying if they occur frequently and may lead to the occupants of a home taking them down. This presents a major safety risk in the event of a house fire.
To minimise the likelihood of false alarms occurring smoke alarms should be regularly cleaned, tested and reset by someone who understands the way they operate.