For the past week, our smoke alarms have been going off every night at 9:00pm. Nothing has been on fire. There has been no smoke. The alarms just go off. We live in a new house we purchased from the builder 5 months ago. The smoke alarms are brand new, but every night the alarms go off. This is a huge pain in the ass. It is loud and wakes up the kids. Everyone panics and runs around. You never realize how hard it is to stop those things from going off until you try to get them to shut up. I knocked the things off of the ceiling and they still went off in my hand. I mashed the button. I took the batteries out. If one goes off, they all go off. It is maddening.
This maddening smoke alarm behavior got me thinking about whether or not a ghost could produce this type of behavior in a smoke alarm. My preliminary research showed that many people have this problem. I found countless message boards where people have asked if a haunting could produce an alarm going off every night at the same time. One person hypothesized the following on a yahoo message board, “If the theory about ghosts being a collection of energy is true, then yes, they could manipulate electrical equipment to do such things, powering if from their own energy.” This made sense to me. This theory is supported by the large number of people that describe this type of smoke alarm activity in haunted locations. Stories like this one from Castle of Spirits http://www.castleofspirits.com/stories03/smokedet.html are prolific. Another interesting smoke alarm ghost story can be found a http://www.yourghoststories.com/real-ghost-story.php?story=3449.
While my husband was in medical school, he worked in the Morgue. The morgue was located in the basement of the hospital and was isolated from everything else. The work was easy and we could sit together and watch movies and play games. Bodies didn’t come in often and we were the only ones there. Every night the smoke alarm went off in front of the cooler where the bodies were kept at 3am on the nose. It was like clockwork. It went off for five or ten minutes and then went quiet. It was more than creepy, especially when you are spending the night alone at the morgue.
So, theoretically a passing spirit or ghost could produce the type of behavior we’ve observed in our smoke alarms here. I also wanted to investigate non supernatural possibilities for my faulty smoke alarms. I did my reading and found that there are many things that can contribute to smoke alarms going off at the wrong time. Many modern smoke alarms are also triggered by intense heat. So, if it is very hot and your attic is excessively hot sometimes that will heat the ceiling and trigger the smoke alarm. Also, if hot steam from a shower rises up this could trigger the smoke alarm. It is also always possible that the things are broken and need repair. I could easily rule out the smoke alarm being broken by talking to my builder. I could also rule out the attic heat hypothesis by going up into my attic and finding that it was not really hot up there. That left the steam possibility. My son does shower every night around nine and after examining his behavior, I think he was setting off the alarm by opening the bathroom door and releasing all the hot steam onto the smoke detector.
Our house is not haunted, but that doesn’t make the number of cases of smoke alarms going off without any reason less interesting. I have never found an explanation for the alarm that went off at the morgue. The alarm was a hospital alarm that was checked regularly due to tight hospital regulations. It was in front of the cooler and the air around it was cooler than the rest of the hospital and since the morgue was in the basement there was no attic above it. My husband and I still tend to believe that the phantoms of the dead locked up in that rancid smelling cooler drifted out late at night, setting off the alarm.
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