Thursday, 21 July 2011

Technology and me ... again!

The last two days have been very busy ... and technology has conspired to make my situation somewhat busier than it needed to be.

Yesterday I spent most of the day on the 'Spring cleaning' of my toy/wargames room. I achieved quite a lot ... and found a lot more stuff that I had forgotten that I owned (mainly 1:76th-scale model military vehicles). Things are now far better organised, and although the job is not quite finished, the main part of it has been done.

It was also my wife's last day at work before the Summer holidays, and so we went out for a drink at the local golf club with some friends to celebrate. It was on our return that technology began to cause me grief. We had just sat down to eat our evening meal when we both heard a loud 'bleep'. I went off to investigate, and about forty seconds after the first 'bleep', there was a second one.

From then on the 'bleeps' came regularly every forty seconds ... and I eventually traced the source to the fire alarm on the middle floor of our house. I set up the stepladder and climbed up to see what was causing the problem ... but could find nothing wrong because I could not get the cover off the alarm! Some twenty minutes later, after a degree of bad language and a lot of effort, I managed to get the cover off, and discovered that the cause of the 'bleeping' (which was, by now, not only very annoying but also deafening as my head was only inches from the alarm) was the back-up battery. It had reached the end of its 'life' and needed replacing.

By now it was 10.15pm. Where does one find somewhere where you can buy a new 9 volt battery at that hour? The answer is ... the local petrol filling station!

I drove to the petrol station, persuaded the clerk to go into the by-now-closed shop to look for a suitable battery, and when he came back and told me that they had some in stock, I bought two ... which turned out to be a very good idea!

I drove home, climbed up the ladder, inserted the new back-up battery ... and the fire alarm continued to 'bleep'. On reading the instructions, which happen to be on the inside of the plastic cover that holds the back-up battery in place, and therefore not in the easiest of places to read when up a ladder, I discovered that this should happen for seven to ten minutes after the back-up battery is installed, after which it should be silent.

Ten minutes went by ... and the 'bleeping' continued. Not only that, but the other fire alarm, which is on the top floor of our house, began to join in as well! I quickly took this fire alarm down (I was able to do this quite quickly as by now I had plenty of experience of removing the alarm cover and replacing the battery) and once the second battery I had bought was in place, it also continued 'bleeping' ... but unlike its companion alarm, it did stop after ten minutes.

By now it was time to go to bed, and I just could not stop the first fire alarm from 'bleeping'. I took the battery out ... left it for a few minutes ... and put it back in ... and waited ... but after fifteen minutes it was still 'bleeping'. Finally, out of pure desperation, I disconnected the whole alarm from the electrical mains system, and took it (still 'bleeping') into the conservatory so that it was out of earshot. My wife and I then went to bed.

This morning the fire alarm had stopped 'bleeping', and so after breakfast I reattached it to the electrical mains system ... and it immediately started 'bleeping' again. It carried on doing this for nearly twenty minutes ... and then it stopped ... and it has been silent ever since.

I have now tested both fire alarms twice today, and they seem to be functioning normally at last. I do not want this to happen again next year, and I have made a diary note to check the back-up batteries in the fire alarms in twelve months time.

Technology and me do not seem to be 'interfacing' very well at the moment. I hope that things will be better tomorrow.


  1. Bob

    I share your frustration with "bleeping" fire alarms. Ours are positioned so that cooking can set them off, leaving me in the position of running around the house with a broom hitting the "sleep" buttons on the alarms.


  2. bleeping fire alarms!

    Those "quick little" jobs, or almost anything involving technology, all too often end up taking so much more time than expected, don't they?

    Around here they suggest replacing the batteries once a year using something like the time change as a reminder (daylight savings time vs. regular time)

  3. Hi Bob,

    That seems like a case of the law of the sod once again! Smoke alarms are my particular bete noir - especially as ours always seem to need to have the battery changed at some ungodly hour - using in the middle of the night!

    At least the day up until then was both productive and enjoyable.

    All the best,


  4. Peter Douglas,

    Ours are positioned so that they give the best coverage ... which also makes them difficult to reach!

    All the best,


  5. Fitz-Badger,

    This was a quick job that probably consumed about three hours of my time.

    The idea about changing the batteries every year is a good one, and I will try doing something similar next year. I would have probably done something similar before but I did not know that these mains-connected fire alarms had back-up batteries until they conked out!

    All the best,


  6. David Crook,

    Things like this never, ever seem to happen first thing in the morning when you have time to deal with them; they always happen during the evening or just before (or after) bedtime.

    As you say, the rest of the day was productive ... but the feeling that I achieving something was rather dissipated by the fire alarm problems.

    All the best,



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