questionsdoes steam from the shower set off your smoke…

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I've never heard of a brand that does have such a sensitivity to steam, all I could think of was "stop showering in fire". :)

That's annoying, I hope someone here can help you find one!

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Do you have an exhaust fan in the bathroom? If not, you need one to get all the moisture out of the bathroom. That will also save money on air conditioning by lowering the humidity in the house.

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@inkycatz: Thanks!

@tbgolladay: No, only one of those ceiling heaters. I am not sure how much it would cost to have an exhaust fan installed, my house is very old (100 this year) and hard to work on. When it's temperate I have the full sized bathroom window partly open so it isn't a problem. But the temps aren't dropping below 80 at night and are running 103-105 during the day so the windows are all closed up save for a crack in the kitchen. I use a swamp cooler, humidity is actually desirable. We have the 4th lowest average humidity in the country.

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Actually smoke detectors aren't designed to alert on steam. But when water vapor gets trapped inside it can cause it to do funky things, so there's really no model that will prevent that from happening, as they all have to be manufactured within specific guidelines to be certified. I know you mentioned you didn't want to move it, but that may be your only option until you install an exhaust fan. FEMA actually recommends installing smoke alarms at least 3 feet away from any doors that lead to a shower or kitchen to prevent steam from triggering a false alarm.

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Maybe open the bathroom window while you shower so the steam can escape and close it when you're done. Otherwise you might have to spring for the vent fan.

Before this, I didn't eve realize that steam from a shower could set them off.

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I had the same problem. I ended up buying a different fire alarm and I have had no "steam" alarms since.

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@barnabee: Would mind sharing the brand name, and if you know it, model?

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@eraten: That's why I asked rather than just replace it, I thought it might be an across the board kind of thing. My bathroom sits directly over my water heater, one of my three gas appliances and the only one with a pilot flame on 24/7, it's the only constant source of fire in my house. So I like having the smoke detector in between me and it. The other two sources are the stove and the old fashioned in-the-floor heater, and where the smoke detector is located, it's also between them and my bedroom. So, in theory, there's no way that fire could get from any of the primary fire sources to where I am sleeping without going through the smoke detector first. Electrical fires are another matter. Opening the window may be the easiest solution, but I'd rather change the detector if that would work.

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@moondrake: It's an ionization smoke alarm called Nighthawk and it's made by Kidde. kidde.com. My smoke alarm now has a few years on it, so I should probably consider replacing it. But when I replaced my old one, I went to our locally owned hardware store, told them my problem and they gave me this unit. They told me to keep all of it's packing materials and return it if it was steam sensitive; they would keep giving me models to try. Luckily the first one worked!

Hope you find one that's not steam sensitive. It's really a pain to have the darn thing go off all of the time. (My dog was terrified of it.)

edit: My guess is that my alarm, Model 0916, is not being sold anymore.

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I used to have this problem; I don't think it was the steam, I think it was the heat.

We replaced the smoke detector with a newer one, and haven't had a problem since.

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i also dealt with this in my previous egg carton.
i agree with @brendarichardson. i think it was a heat thing. here is my story:

i take showers that are like...steak-searingly hot, while mr man does not shower at such high temps. this meant he did not have to hurriedly vacate the shower and swing a towel overhead at the ceiling to try to circulate the air to cease the persistent beeping.
circulating air was pivotal. sometimes leaving the door open helped, too, but after an incident with the housemate (poor guy), this was not a good solution.

ETA: happy birthday to your house.

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I'd guess that you have a photoelectric alarm - try an ionizing detector, if that's the case. Ionizing detectors are also susceptible to steam related false alarms, but less so. Also, mount it in the center of the ceiling, and away from the bathroom door, if you are looking to move the mount (even if it's just down the hall).

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@dcalotta: Thanks, that's very useful info. I will definitely look into it. My house is too teeny for moving it down the hall to make a difference. I think the hall is 6 feet long, the bathroom is in about the middle and the alarm is already one one end. With both floors the whole house is a little less than 1,100sqft. My kitchen is 6'x6'. My 6' friend can stand in the middle and touch the walls in all directions.

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@moondrake: Hey, you still have me beat by about 150 sqft :)

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@moondrake: And what am I, chopped liver? Here, I schlep out to the garage to get my step ladder and then gingerly climb up and have to fight all the accumulated dust while I take down my fire alarm. And THEN, I take the time to wade through all of my owner's manuals (do you know how messy that file cabinet is?), just to find the info that doesn't do you any good. I'm exhausted!

So, it looks like you should try an ionizing detector. Hope it works.

(Don't mind my ranting. I'm just kidding you. BTW, I did change my detector's battery!)

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@moondrake:

Step 1: Get ladder.
Step 2: Get vacuum.
Step 3: Open smoke detector and vacuum the dust out of it.
Step 4: Put everything back where it belongs.

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@barnabee: Sorry. 100 bows I missed your response. Thanks for your effort on my behalf. When I asked I never expected you to have to work that hard for the answer. Mine is easily accessible and I forget that not everyone's is.

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@xavoc: LOL. I can reach the smoke detector fine without a ladder, thankfully, since I have to take it off the ceiling most mornings and suffocate it. The hall ceiling is like 6'8", probably part of the problem now that I think of it. It's a solid state unit, I don't think it's supposed to be opened up. There's no dust on the ceiling so I don't imagine there'd be much in the detector. Besides, one would think me taking it down and stuffing it under a pillow several times a week would knock any dust loose.

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Ours have a few times, and only in the Winter, we use a desk fan to keep the steam circulating around the room.

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@moondrake: No, seriously. Take a vacuum to it, even if it's just the slats on the faceplate. I can't tell you how many homes I've had a smoke detector go off at random (OK, at random being date is random, time is always between 1 am and 3 am when I'm dead asleep.) that just needed a good cleaning. You can even take compressed air to it if you want to.

What makes me think of this is you just had windows replaced, which in a 100 year-old house (Especially if the lathe/plaster/horsehair mix is still in/on the walls.) can be really dusty. :)

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I've never had that problem, but it sounds like your best solution is ventilation of some kind.

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Never the shower, but I have set it off with an electric kettle, the dishwasher, and the stove. It's also REALLY sensitive, so any amount of smoke from cooking sets it off. Pretty much can't do anything in the kitchen without it going off, assuming the battery is in it...

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@xavoc: Don't have a vacuum (wood floors) but I do have one of the spray cans of air so I'll give it a try before I stick it back on the wall. I bought a mattress at lunch and my friend drove it to my house and put it on my bed-- I wonder why he didn't ask me about the smoke detector under my pillow when he called?

Got a couple of good deals, it's the last day of sales before a high end furniture chain goes out of business. The mattress was originally $750 and the oak entertainment center was originally $700 and I got both for $400 at lunch.

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Same thing happens at our house. Steam -- or I always thought it was the steam, but now I'm seeing maybe it's the heat-- from the kids' bathroom would set off the smoke detector. (And as a side note, I would just like to point out how comical it is to see a very frightened child come bolting out of the bathroom in nothing but a hastily wrapped towel.)

We have no fan in the bathroom, so our solution is to always have the window open during showers, no matter the weather. Then we leave the window open and the door closed long after the showering is done, until all steam and moisture are gone.

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I have not had this problem but mine does go off just about every time the oven is used, so -- I fasten a shower cap with a rubber band around the smoke detector and then remove it when I am done cooking. I usually leave the chair there so I don't forget that I need to take the cap off.

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Did you ever solve your "shower" alarm problem? I have the same problem and we do have a ventilation fan in the bathroom. This morning it went off from the vaporizer in my sick daughter's bedroom. My kids and dogs freak out every time it goes off. Moving it really isn't an option since it's at the small landing of the second floor where the doors of all the upstairs rooms are and the furnace closet.

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@amanfawt7: I don't recommend my solution. After five days in a row of having to fetch a chair, climb up, take it off the ceiling, open the battery compartment and remove the battery while being assaulted by the unholy racket and watching my dog stare at me with blank panic on his face, then after the steam cleared reassemble the thing and climb back on the chair and argue it back into its slot. I just didn't put it back up. I felt like I was in more danger of breaking my neck trying to deal with it than of my house burning down. I need to at least find one with a "shut the hell up" button on its face that I can use to silence it for 5-10 minutes at a time till the steam clears. Then I could keep a broom handle nearby to poke it with instead of having to leap up on a chair in the pre-dawn every morning.

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I don't ever have this problem. I like to sit on shower chairs in my Minnesota. I think that it is fun to sit in the shower. http://www.cornermedical.com/Catalog/Online-Catalog-Category.aspx?cid=5677&sid=1132