Adventures in Homeownership: Things that go chirp in the night…

Adventures in Homeownership: Things that go chirp in the night…

Allison Urbanek 2 edby HRRC Program Director Allison Urbanek

It was a dark and stormy night, I had just finished watching a very scary horror movie, and I was awakened in the middle of the night by a very shrill chirping sound….  No, this is not entirely true, but it sounds much better than what actually happened.

As usual, Dave and I are in the middle of a rehab project and are living amid construction once again. (Honestly, when will the insanity end???) This time, we ripped out the drop ceiling in the office/living room area and, because of the construction dust, ended up moving the carbon monoxide detector to another outlet. When we moved it, the thing made a horrid noise – shrill, just terrible really – but once we plugged it in, it seemed to be working just fine. But, it was the next night that I was awakened by the dreaded chirp. Now, it wasn’t a consistent chirp, it was intermittent, and it took me a while to realize that it was coming from the CO detector. (With all these lights flashing from it, you would think that I would have made the connection earlier, but it was 2:30 am….)

The first thought that came to mind in my sleepy haze was, “Holy crap, we’re gonna die.” I was trying to think logically about things like where I was going to take the dogs, and where I should look for my clothes. Once it dawned on me that, in fact, the chirping was intermittent, I stopped freaking out (for a moment, at least,) and woke Dave.  His sleepy response was, “Just turn the fan on. I’m sure it’s nothing. We’ll be fine.”

Fine? Fine! That damn thing is chirping, and you think we’ll be fine? But finally my female sense kicked in, and I looked more closely at the detector. Lo and behold, there were directions and a decoder on the back. The blinking lights and intermittent chirps meant that the backup battery had died. Seriously…at 2:30 in the morning, it up and died?  So I went in the basement, got out the screwdriver and changed the battery. Silence, beautiful silence.

The lesson to be learned here is DO NOT ignore things that go chirp in the night – like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. No matter how tempting it may be to pull the battery out and just forget about it, these things make grating noises for a reason. It’s important that we get up and act (or react, for that matter). Thankfully for Dave and me, this was just a false alarm, but I now have a few 9-volt batteries lying around, just waiting for the next time things start chirping in the middle of the night.