03/25/15 – Smoke alarms @ The Vaux are wired to use house current, but chirp to warn when their backup batteries fail. They also have a finite lifespan. Vaux alarms, which were installed nine years ago, contain this phrase molded right into their plastic chassis — REPLACE BY 2016.
These alarms are already starting to fail, and changing a battery may not bring peace and quiet. When they go off, the sound is maddening; so much so that agitated residents sometimes risk life and limb on rickety step stools to wrestle them to silence.
Smoke alarms are owned by individuals, and owners are responsible for their maintenance, but changing batteries and/or replacing the alarms altogether is a potentially dangerous operation. Be careful!
Here's a useful tip: embossed next to the little TEST button on the face of each original alarm is this instruction:
PUSH AND HOLD TO TEST WEEKLY HOLD TO SILENCE
Awkward wording, to be sure, but pushing that button continuously for a few seconds (with a broom handle, maybe?) should stop the noise. Then maintenance can be performed at leisure, preferably by someone with excellent balance and a good ladder.