We’ve all been there. You’ve just fired up your burners to prepare some good steak (a good sear makes a good steak).
You turn on the hood or ventilation system, and to your dismay, the smoke alarm goes off! Some alarms will only shut off once the smoke is clear.
So, How Can You Prevent the Smoke Detector from Going Off While Cooking?
The first thing you should do is determine the type of alarm installed in your kitchen area.
Optical/Photoelectric vs. Ionization Alarms – Is Your Kitchen Equipped with The Right Type of Alarm?
Your fire alarm could go off because it uses ionization technology rather than optical.
To understand why, let’s take a glance at the difference between these two technologies:
Ionization devices come with a tiny amount of radioactive substance placed between a pair of electrically charged plates.
The radiation from the radioactive material ionizes the air between these plates, causing the current to flow between them.
When smoke particles enter the chamber, they disrupt the ions’ flow and interrupt the current, setting off the alarm.
These alarms are designed to detect smoldering fires and are the worst type to install in your kitchen area.
This type aims a beam of light into the sensing chamber but at a certain angle away from its trigger sensor.
When smoke particles enter the chamber, they disrupt the light and reflect it to the trigger sensor, setting off the alarm.
These devices are the best type for kitchen area because they are designed to detect flaming fires rather than smoldering fires, meaning the smoke won’t trigger them.
The only reason ionization alarms are the default option in many homes is that they are cheap and effective.
It’s a shame many people don’t know a better kitchen-friendly option can replace them.
Many users tend to remove the batteries from the annoying device and go back to cooking, defeating the goal of having it installed in the first place.
Air Purifiers Clean the Air and Can Be Used to Eliminate the Smoke Before It Triggers Your Alarm
A specific type of air purifier has been proven to outsmart fire alarms easily triggered by kitchen smoke.
One of those purifiers is Blue Air 211+:
Buy one of these and put it on the floor underneath the fire alarm, and it will handle the matter for you.
“But what’s so special about them?” you might ask.
The special thing about air purifiers like Blue Air 211+ is that they suck bad air laterally and blow fresh air vertically, meaning the smoke from the cooktop won’t settle under the fire alarm to trigger it.
So placing an air purifier under the fire smoke detector not only does it purify the air by getting rid of the smoke particles, but it also improves air circulation in the kitchen, letting you focus on your scorching steak.
Check If the Device Has the Hush® Feature – Some Devices Can Be Desensitized for A Short Time
Many modern fire alarms can be disabled temporarily or have their sensitivity decreased for a short period, usually 15 – 20 minutes, to let you cook without worry.
Once the “hush” period elapses, they return to full sensitivity even if you forget everything about them.
Consult the user manual to see whether your device is programmable or has a hush button.
If your device is prone to false triggers, consider replacing it with one of these programmable options.
It is worth remembering that desensitization features should only be used when you’re sure the problematic alarm isn’t triggered by a real fire risk, in which case emergency an action should be taken.
If You Are Out of Options, Cover Your Alarm with PRESS ‘N SEAL® Wrap or Polythene Paper
Sometimes you don’t have much time to think through what to do.
Maybe this is the only time you are cooking near your alarm. You solve the problem by uncovering and uncovering the device with a cling seal.
All you need is a PRESS ‘N SEAL® cling seal or any other light polythene paper, Scotch tape, and something to climb on or a regular broom to help you reach the ceiling.
Put the Scotch tape on the broom’s bristle side and stick the paper over the alarm.
Is Your Hood OK? It Might to Be to Blame – Hire A Professional to Examine It
The hood hangs over the stove and, with the help of a fan, removes smoke and airborne greases from the cooking area by evacuating them outdoors.
So, if the situation is so bad that the alarms in rooms adjacent to the kitchen are being triggered, your hood system might be faulty.
When you install a hood for your stove, you want to accompany it with good ducting, or else the smoke will still find its way back into the kitchen and adjacent rooms.
Hood ducting should be at least 5” (127mm) – 6” (150mm) in diameter.
Narrow ducts would be a major hindrance to better airflow.
Your ducting should also have as minimal turns as possible depending on how far it needs to travel outdoors – snaky or corrugated ducts reduces airflow.
The mesh at the end of the duct prevents bugs from crawling into the kitchen but should not be too fine because the static pressure may also inhibit the airflow.
To test how well your ducting removes smoke from your kitchen, turn on the ventilation and place a flat piece of paper on the mesh.
The suction force should hold the paper.
At maximum setting, the suction force should be strong enough to hold a ceramic plate.
If it fails to hold the paper, it means the whole system is bad at eliminating the smoke, and that’s why your alarms keep going off.
You might need to clean or remove the mesh entirely if the holes are too fine to permit better air CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute).
The other problem might be the offset.
The cooktop should be above your forehead and align with the hood or stay utmost 3 – 4” back (you want to move your hand back and forth while cooking without hitting anything).
If your cooktop doesn’t align correctly with the hood, a big part of the smoke will have nowhere to go, lingering in the room and even seeping into adjacent rooms to trigger your alarms.
Several factors might set off the smoke detector but first, start by determining the type of device you have in your kitchen area.
Photoelectric/Optical alarms are preferable over ionization options.
You can use an air purifier to absorb the smoky air and eject fresh air into the fire alarm. If your device comes with the Hush® feature, turn it on.
The problem might be in the hood over your cooktop – call the professional to examine it.