Can Steam Set Off My Smoke Detector?

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When your smoke detector goes off while you are trying to relax under a steady stream of hot water, it can be a frightening jolt to the system. Likewise, having an alarm going off while you’re in the shower is not relaxing. Smoke detectors are sometimes so sensitive that they’re triggered by practically anything—including the steam that’s coming from the bathroom or something cooking in the kitchen. Removing certain smoke detectors entirely from your home may not be an option, but there are a few solutions to prevent it from alarming every time you hop in the shower or boil something in the kitchen.

Can Steam Set Off Smoke Detectors?

We all know that  steam isn’t smoke, so, it may be confusing to the average homeowner why their shower is setting off their smoke detector. But thick humidity has a few characteristics that are like smoke, which means that it’s probably a more common occurrence than you realize. While a smoke detector is ideally meant to detect only combustible sources, it may be confused by the presence of thick air, like shower steam, that’s clouding the detection chambers.

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to give the detector a lesson about why humidity isn’t a dangerous threat to your home like smoke. Removing certain smoke detectors entirely from your home may not be an option, but there are a few solutions to prevent it from alarming every time you hop in the shower or kitchen.

Move Your Smoke Detectors to Dry Areas

This is usually the first step you can take to prevent an overly sensitive smoke alarm. Moving a smoke detector away from a shower prevents the humidity from reaching the detector, and you can continue to enjoy your shower in peace and quiet. While it’s possible that a fire may be started in the bathroom (from, say, a faulty electrical outlet or a powerful hair dryer), fires are much more likely to be started in kitchens or other areas that store major appliances. Install smoke detectors in bedrooms, family rooms, and utility rooms so you’re still getting protection without risking the chance of the alarm going off every time you want to shower.

Use Cooler Water and Promote Healthy Hair and Skin

It might not be an ideal solution, but turning down the heat of your shower can be ideal for your overall health and is one of the easiest, safest, and fastest ways to prevent steam from triggering your smoke alarm. An article from Kohler reported, “according to most dermatologists, the ideal shower temperature is anywhere between 98°F (37°C) and 104°F (40°C)—and no more than 105 °F (41°C).” Staying within this range should help prevent false alarms from your smoke detectors while giving you the same benefits of both hot and cold showers that promote healthy hair and skin.

When You Should Update Your Smoke Detectors

Older alarms tend to become more sensitive as they age. If your alarms have never had a problem with humidity before but now seem to need constant attention, it’s probably time to replace or upgrade them. Like most products on the market, smoke detectors were never meant to last forever. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, it is recommended to replace any smoke detector that’s more than 10-years-old — even if they are functioning perfectly.

Updating your smoke alarm can also be a great opportunity to upgrade to a smart smoke detector. With a smart Smoke Detector, you get all the traditional smoke alarm features you are accustomed to, with additional features like professional monitoring alerts and being able to cancel a false alarm instantly using your mobile app. That way, if you still have a false alarm from shower steam, you can avoid having to go through crazy obstacles, like leaving the shower or pulling out a ladder, to turn of the siren. 

For additional protection, you can add the Brinks Home Fire Fighter wireless sensor that alerts your control panel when a smoke detector goes off and sends a signal to our response center for immediate assistance.

When Should You Update Your Smoke Detectors?

Older alarms tend to become more sensitive as they age. If your alarms have never had a problem with humidity before but now seem to need constant attention, it’s probably time to replace or upgrade them. Like most products on the market, smoke detectors were never meant to last forever. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, it is recommended to replace any smoke detector that’s more than 10-years-old — even if they are functioning perfectly.

Updating your smoke alarm can also be a great opportunity to upgrade to a smart smoke detector. With a smart Smoke Detector, you get all the traditional smoke alarm features you are accustomed to, with additional features like professional monitoring alerts and being able to cancel a false alarm instantly using your mobile app. That way, if you still have a false alarm from shower steam, you can avoid having to go through crazy obstacles, like leaving the shower or pulling out a ladder, to turn of the siren. For additional protection, you can add the Brinks Home Fire Fighter wireless sensor that alerts your control panel when a smoke detector goes off and sends a signal to our response center for immediate assistance.

Adding Smoke Detectors to Your Home Security

Your smoke detectors should be a major part of yourhome security. While break-ins and vandalism may be scarier situations to you than a sensitive smoke detector, odds are that the smoke detector will be more important when it comes to your general safety and wellbeing. Make sure you have a fire escape plan in place — no matter what room you happen to be in when the detector goes off.

If you have any questions about finding home security that include life safety devices like smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, call us today and a Brinks Home™ Security Consultant can start building your perfect system that meets your needs!

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