Smoke detectors...halp!

I moved into a new house about a year ago and the smoke detectors are the most sensitive I’ve ever experienced. Even just setting the oven above 400F sets them off. Cooking steak or roasting chicken is a head banging experience. I know one issue is the lack of a vent hood but in my old place, I could cover the alarm with foil while cooking and save my cats the torture but that doesn’t seem to work here. Is this an issue of installing all new photoelectric detectors?

How many are you talking about??? Can you take out the battery or open a window?

It’s the one in the kitchen hallway that goes off but they are all hard wired. I’ve removed the battery and the next closest “sniffs” it and goes off. I was truly stunned the day I removed the battery and thought I was all clear (it was even beeping as it does when the battery is out) but they went off anyway. Opening the window, fan full speed, opening patio door 6 feet from the detector does nothing.

Do you have central a/c? I set my fan to the on position, and it sucks the air into the intake vent which just happens to be next to the smoke detector. This pulls the smoke into the vent and away from the detector.

Not sure if this would work for anyone but me, but I thought I’d throw it out there.

Yup but the vent isn’t near the detector or stove unfortunately. I might just have to get detectors I can silence for a period of time. I can’t keep waving for the duration of cooking.

I had this issue with my last 2 smoke detectors. The last one had a button that would silence nuisance alarms, but you had to hit it every 5 minutes or so. It died, and I went with a photoelectric one, and so far (3 weeks) no problems. However, mine are NOT hard wired, so I’m not sure if that would make a difference.

Ay yi yi. I feel for you. I didn’t believe it when the installation instructions said not to mount the detector too close to the kitchen…now I know why :frowning: Though the vent hood does help. Can you install one?

It has a silence button “silence/test” but it doesn’t seem to work.

I’ve pondered it but have an over stove microwave so would involve moving that I think. I might look into new detectors first since seems there’s no other solution with the current detectors. I’m not even sure a hood would help as they seem to detect the heat.

I used to own a home and business security company as my first business I had before going to college, and have kept up on some aspects. Also I worked as an electricians assistant as a teen, before deciding I wanted to go in a different direction.

By hardwired do you mean just ones that are wired into the house ac, with battery backup? Or ones that are also wired into the home alarm system? I ask because there are differing ways to deal with the situation.

So just a few thoughts in no particular order.

Your smoke detectors may be dirty inside. If so they have become super sensitive.
Here’s a link to info on testing and cleaning. Sometimes it just takes a few blasts of canned compressed air.

You may want to replace the smoke detector nearest the kitchen with a heat detector.

You may want to replace all the detectors with new ones. They don’t last forever. Usually after ten years they should be replaced.

Here’s a link to a lot of information on smoke detectors. Types, maintenance, trouble shooting, etc.

If they are hardwired, but not part of an alarm system, as is the case in most newer homes and apartments, then they are usually all on one circuit. You can have an electrician do some wiring for you and put a switch in your kitchen. Maybe on a timer set to whatever time works best. But this may be pricey depending upon the electrician, or if you know basic electrical wiring.

If it is part of an alarm system, depending upon your contract, you may be able to get the alarm installer to put in switching capability. Or less sensitive alarms, or ones that the sensitivity can be dialed in.


No need to install smoke detectors in a kitchen . Or living rooms . International Building Code requires one in each bedroom and one in the hall way adjacent to bedrooms . You must have one carbon monoxide detector in the home also .

I do wonder who installed it. It’s not “in” the kitchen but literally one foot outside of it in the hallway. I guess I could remove it but the other hallway detector also is apparently close enough to go off.

Wow, thanks! They are hard wired to each other not to a security alarm. You may be on to something with the age. The house is 11 years old so I’m due for a replacement. I wonder if that would solve the issue.

I would replace the ones closest to the kitchen with heat detectors.

Thanks I’ll give that a try

My husband is an electrical contractor, and he recommends replacing them every 10 years. He says they continue to improve every year.

1 Like

Yea, dad has been reminding me every month. It’s on the list. They clearly still work :slight_smile: but might just replace and get a brand I can silence

Good luck!! I built my home 15 years ago and have a “commercial” (not like my old Vulcan stove in my old home) stove/oven with an open grill in the middle. It is almost impossible for me to grill without setting off my smoke detectors, which is in the hallway not even in the kitchen. I have gone so far as placing a bag and elastic band around it, but somehow I still set them off. Oh, I also have a rather larger “commercial” vent as well. I quit trying to use the grill years ago.

FYI here’s a pic of the vent!!

Hmm that’s not giving me much hope. My old place, foil worked so well.

You have sympathy - mine is about 5 meters from the stove - unfortunately that is the ceiling height so it makes it tricky to mute it…!

In my experience its not the detector but the positioning that usually causes the problem. If the cooking smoke naturally flows in that direction any detector will trigger. Is there a door between the kitchen and detector - closing that may be a short term solution.

If you are planning to replace them it may be good to look at repositioning the one near the kitchen to a location slightly further away but still in an area that will trap rising smoke.

These days smoke detectors come in two types: Ionisation and Photoelectric. Most fire experts tend to recommend Photoelectric alarms as they trigger faster with smouldering fires (ionisation are better for fast burning fires) which are the more usual house fires, they also tend to have fewer false alarms than ionisation alarms. They usually have a label telling you what type they are if they are ionisation maybe switch for photoelectric.

Heat detectors are good in the kitchen because they don’t respond to smoke, but its often the smoke that kills. They may not detect a smouldering couch or curtains until its too late.

Regarding the “10 year replacement” this is generally advice based on the life of the lithium batteries in the alarms. These are the reserve batteries that power the alarm if the mains goers down. Its often simpler to change the whole alarm rather than trying to switch out the batteries.

Help cover Hungry Onion's costs when you shop at Amazon!

Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo