Sunday, July 15, 2012

Things that go beep in the night

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And other things that go bump in the night
Good Lord, deliver us!
Scottish Prayer

...or Celtic prayer or Cornish prayer....or, who knows! I first knew this as the prayer my mother would say when I woke up in the night with a bad dream. It was light enough to give me a bit of perspective (a tiger in the closet, perhaps not in February in the Midwest?), but solid enough to depend on: Good Lord, deliver me!

As the sky grew more threatening this afternoon, Crash and I were crashed in the sunroom watching a movie and doing a bit of email, respectively. The movie dialog was so bad that I'd plugged into a soothing soundscape on my computer (rain, given the weather it seemed appropriate). I thought I was hearing a beeping noise, but convinced myself it was leaking in from movie. I took the earbuds out to consult with Crash about dinner and discovered he was as mystified by the *beep* as I was.

We have new smoke detectors. The *beep* sounded like a smoke detector. It went off every 45 seconds or so. Ah, we must need new batteries. Uh-oh. No 9V in the house. These detectors are wired in, so you can't shut off the noise. Crash and I head out to (a) pick up dinner and (b) pick up batteries.

Crash the Tall replaces the batteries. Things are still *beep*ing. I check the manual. It suggests a fault in the wiring. Call an electrician. How long can I stand the beeping? And after a house fire 25 years ago, I'm hard-wired, shall we say, to flinch when I hear the sound. There is no way to turn the things off short of turning off all the electricity to the house and removing the batteries. Which is arguably not a good idea.

Math Man comes home; we eat, to the tune of the s. Crash bails to go to dinner with friends (yes, he's eaten, but he can't take the ing any longer). Putting my dishes away, I'm in the kitchen when a *beep* goes off. And it's not coming from the smoke detector. It's coming from the shelf with my cookbooks and bins of useful stuff (flashlights, band-aids, cat-hair removal aids for those who wear black).

Math Man and I start hunting through the bins. What could we have that would beep? On the top shelf in the corner is a white unmarked box, still sealed in cellophane. *beep*

It's an old carbon monoxide detector, given to us years back by Math Man's brother (a public health grad student with an interest in the effects of low level CO). I already had detectors, so we put it on the shelf as an extra. *beep* There is a button that lets you stop the *beep* for 12 hours at a time. We press it and wait. No *beep*...but what are the next steps?

It is a sealed unit, no user serviceable parts inside. When the batteries fail you are supposed to return it to the manufacturer. The company has gone out of business (I think I know why).

And what was the company thinking? Can you imagine mailing something to Texas that was beeping every 45 seconds? The FBI would be at your door in short order. After they evacuated the post office, and got a bomb squad in to dispose of the package.

Do we keep hitting the button every 12 hours until the battery that powers the battery-dead alarm finally dies? And how long will that be? We can't throw it away. Can you imagine if our garbage started beeping?

A bit of research to be sure I knew more or less what was inside of this thing, and I took matters into my own hands. A large screw driver and a bit of leverage and I had severed the @#$% *beep* from its power source. The AA batteries were both glued AND soldered in.



  1. Strange! My smoke alarm started beeping yesterday too. Luckily, it was a bit easier to take care of then the investigative process your alarms instigated.

  2. Maybe it's all the humidity in the air? Glad you fixed your troubles, too...

  3. Sometimes brute force is the way to go