So my smoke detector is hard wired to the house’s supply. If the power goes out it will discharge and emit a short beep. I find this helpful, especially in the middle of the night. I’d prefer to know about it rather than sleep through it.

If it actually detects smoke, of course it will just not stop. We learned that with the ‘burning food on the bottom of the oven’ incident recently.

If I hit the button on it, it will beep a little bit longer than that split second. Noticably so.

Imagine my surprise when it went off at 3am as if I’d hit the button. Needless to say I bolted out of bed trying to find the cause, but there wasn’t one. No unusual odors of any sort that would indicate smoke, the power hadn’t flickered, nobody seemed to have been there to push the button. It just decided to beep. DAMMIT.

After padding about the house for 15 minutes trying to make sure I hadn’t missed anything in my sleepy adrenaline rush state I took the thing down to examine it, and opened it up. Within was a mass of dust. It wasn’t something I’d ever thought to clean before, but it was in a state not unlike the rest of the house when I moved in all those years ago. Like looking into a time capsule.

The button pressing mechanism was also covered with dust… in fact, it had a particularly dusty strand bridging its connection. With no other explanation at the moment I’m forced to assume that this dust was somehow suffucient to conduct a spark, thereby setting the thing off like I’d pressed the button. After carefully (because of those damn capacitors) dusting in there, it looked to be in good shape, and I plugged it back in and went to bed.

Then of course I couldn’t sleep because I was awake until 6am expecting it to beep at me some more. It didn’t. Hopefully the cats at home aren’t getting beeped at though.