humans and smoke detectors
Tuesday, August 9 2022
After work today I made a rare Monday-evening errand run. I first went to the brick mansion on Downs Street mostly just to reattach the duct to the laundry dryer. While there, I noticed a mounting screw was missing from the door knob for the basement door, so I salvaged one from a lesser-used inside door. I also noticed the hydronic pressure was low on the boiler, which suggests I need to replace the feeder valve. These are the things I do as part of landlording, but it doesn't come to very much work, and our operation is far more profitable than it would be if we had to pay someone to do these things.
Years ago I replaced nearly all of the household smoke detectors with the kind that detect smoke optically (instead of using a piece of radioactive material to generate alpha particles. The thinking at the time was to eliminate 9v batteries (which are a maintenance headache in any house of this size) and to not have to worry about the radioactive material decaying beyond usefulness (though apparently that is not a problem for anyone who lives on a human timescale). Today, though, I saw a YouTube video about why optical smoke detectors are superior to ionizing ones for a reason that makes them much more likely to stay in service (and thus provide any protection at all): they produce far fewer false positives. False positives are the reason there is presently no smoke detector in the cabin's great room, the room with by far the greatest chance of being engulfed in flames (because it contains a woodstove, a toaster, and a kitchen range). The problem with the smoke detectors installed by the cabin's builders is that it is triggered by even the lightest amount of cooking, which is a known problem of ionizing smoke detectors. So today after I was done on Downs Street, I drove out to Home Depot, where I knew one could buy networkable, optical smoke detectors. I bought two of them. These come with battery backup, which hopefully won't end up being a problem; another reason I've had to remove smoke detectors (and thus increase my risk of fire) is because of incessant beeps related to something about the battery. And the cabin's installed set of smoke detectors tended to beep randomly due to their dislike of something about the power generated by the SolArk inverter, and I ended up having to disconnect them from 120v (which meant that their batteries only lasted a few months). Smoke detectors should come with dials for the level of tolerance one is willing to accept with respect to all these parameters, because the alternative is always disconnection, which is what one does when one is a sleep-obligate organism.
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