A smoke detector is an emergency device and an essential item in every household. But what if everyday things, including a humidifier, can trigger your smoke detector?
In this article, we will explore how steam can trigger a smoke alarm and in what circumstances. Let’s “clear the air.”
Can a Humidifier Set off a Smoke Alarm?
Yes, a humidifier can set off a smoke alarm because it cannot tell the difference between water and smoke particles. Smoke detectors have been known to set off randomly in high-humidity areas, such as in the bathroom. Since humidifiers raise air humidity levels, they may also cause smoke detectors to go off.
That being said, the overall humidity in the space is an important factor. Humidifiers won’t raise the alarm if the space has a humidity level of around 30 to 50%. However, the smoke alarm will likely go off in a really moist location with a humidity level above 80%.
How to stop the humidifier from setting off your smoke alarm? Install your smoke alarms at least 5 ft away from a humidifier or high-humidity areas, such as the bathroom or kitchen.
Types of Humidifiers & Their Probability of Triggering a Fire Alarm
There are two types of humidifiers: cool mist and warm mist humidifiers.
Cool mist humidifiers disperse room-temperature mist into the space. They are often preferred for nurseries and children’s rooms since there’s no hot water or heating element to worry about. Additionally, since no heating is needed, they are less expensive than warm mist types. Although they are typically quiet, they have fans that disperse air around the area, so you might hear them operating.
Warm mist humidifiers use an inner heat source to boil water before expelling it into the air. They are frequently seen as healthier because boiling eliminates waterborne germs and mold, keeping them from contaminating the air you breathe. Plus, they are near silent when they run because they don’t have an internal fan.
Which type of humidifier is most likely to trigger your smoke alarm? Both of them, sadly. The goal of all humidifiers is to raise the humidity level of the space they’re in. So, regardless of whether you have a warm mist or cool mist device, if you set a smoke alarm right next to it, its vapor will undoubtedly cause false alerts.
Why Do We Need Humidifiers to Raise the Moisture Level in the First Place?
Humidifiers add much-needed moisture to the dry air in your home or office, especially in winter. Maintaining relatively healthy humidity levels of between 30 and 50% relieves itchy eyes and skin and can alleviate cold and flu symptoms. Humidifiers slow the spread of germs while helping you breathe easier. Plus, they help keep your throat and nasal passages hydrated, which can help you get a better night’s rest.
Can a Humidifier Cause a Fire?
If a humidifier overheats, it can ignite a fire, but it can’t explode. A humidifier can overheat if it continues to operate after it runs out of water. Once the engine overheats, it will cause the plastic to melt, ultimately starting a fire and triggering your smoke alarm.
Types of Smoke Alarms & Their Probability to Be Set Off by a Humidifier
There are four types of smoke alarms: photoelectric, ionization, dual sensor, and smart smoke alarm.
A photoelectric smoke alarm has a laser-sensing chamber. It gets triggered when something obstructs the laser’s path. This detector is great at picking up smoldering or slow-burning flames, but it also has a high likelihood of activating due to a nearby humidifier.
An ionization detector ionizes the air inside the sensor using electrically charged plates. The alarm is set off when smoke enters the detector because it obstructs the passage of ions. Fast-flaming flames are easier to detect using ionization detectors, but they can also be triggered by a humidifier’s steam or dust!
A dual-sensor detector includes both a photoelectric and ionization detector, offering superior smoke and fire protection. However, since it includes both photoelectric and ionization detectors, the chance of it getting triggered by a humidifier is also very high.
The best-case scenario is getting a smart smoke alarm. This smoke alarm uses high-sensing technology that is more likely to differentiate between a genuine fire and high humidity levels, thus lowering the number of false alarms triggered by a humidifier.
The Best Smart Smoke Alarms That Are Less Likely to Be Set Off by a Humidifier
What distinguishes a good smoke alarm from a great one? Its ability to not get triggered by a steamy bathroom, humidifier, or when you’re boiling water in the kitchen!
Below we list some of the top smart smoke alarms that can differentiate a real fire from a fake one. Let’s check them out.
Varwaneo Carbon Monoxide Alarm Detector
Varwaneo is an affordable smart smoke detector that uses an electrochemical sensor to alert you of both smoke and carbon monoxide danger.
It uses a photoelectric sensor that helps detect smoke reliably while reducing false alarms caused by steam, dust, or insects.
It also features an LCD display that indicates the accurate concentration value of gas when it rises above a certain level of carbon monoxide or fire smoke.
This smart smoke alarm runs on batteries and is super quick to install.
X-Sense Combination Alarm
This model by X-Sense’s biggest selling point is its durability. It features a built-in lithium battery that lasts 10 years and provides continuous power.
Additionally, it has a multi-colored LED indicator with audible beeps that flashes red, green, or yellow to indicate different operating states.
It also features an isolation plate that allows smoke to travel through the sensor smoothly, increasing the sensitivity of the alert. This plate is also dust-proof, which keeps the circuit board clean.
The X-Sense Battery Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detector also has a self-check function that checks its batteries and sensors every 60 seconds to ensure everything is working correctly.
X-Sense Wi-Fi Smoke Detector
The X-Sense Wi-Fi Smoke Detector uses rapid and accurate detection by using three smoke concentration assessments every 10 seconds. This detection accuracy prevents interference from wind, dust, and steam.
This model features a loud buzzer, ensuring that you are awakened in the event of a fire. Additionally, insects are efficiently kept out of the alarm thanks to the insect-proof screen, ensuring the detector’s long-term accuracy, sensitivity, and reliability.
You may also operate this smoke alarm with a smartphone app, which allows you to respond quickly to any emergency.
First Alert Onelink Safe & Sound
Onelink is an intelligent smoke alarm that will protect your house and family while also providing you with a hands-free voice-controlled speaker with excellent music quality.
It’s Alexa-enabled, allowing you to conveniently control it using your smartphone. You can also use it to play music or audiobooks and even listen to the news with its high-end audio.
With its mobile application, you can track the device’s gas levels and battery life and be notified of any emergency in your home.
The Onelink can communicate with any other hardwired alarms in your house, ensuring the entire home is safe and secure.
Google Nest Protect
Nest Protect is a very savvy and advanced smoke alarm device, as it’s made by the tech giant Google.
Plus, this smoke alarm can speak! It will give you an early smoke warning and pinpoint the location of the hazard. When anything potentially harmful occurs or the batteries are getting low, it also notifies you on the smartphone app.
It searches for both quick and slow-burning flames using a split-spectrum sensor, and when there’s a small amount of smoke or steam, you may use your phone to mute the smoke alarm.
What Else Can Set Off a Smoke Alarm?
Many of you are probably wondering what else can set off a smoke alarm besides steam, fire, and smoke. Other probable triggers that will start that beep are the following:
- E-cigarette vape
- Incense sticks
- Hair spray
- Body spray
What Can You Do About It?
As you can see, it’s common for smoke detectors to raise a false alarm. The basic guideline for minimizing the chances of your humidifier setting the detector off is to keep it 5 ft away from your installed smoke detectors. You can use additional tips and tricks to avoid accidentally triggering beeping when you use hair spray or incense sticks.
One of them is to check the position of your smoke alarm. It might be sensing something it shouldn’t if it’s too low to the ground. Make sure your smoke detector is on the ceiling or no more than 12” from the ceiling.
Clean the smoke alarm every few weeks to remove dirt, dust, pollen, and bugs drawn to the sensors.
Last but not least, use a hydrometer. This device will maintain the humidity level in your home or office. A fire alarm won’t go off as long as you can keep the moisture level within the advised range.
A smoke detector is the superhero of our homes. It’s one of the best innovations ever made, saving countless lives each day and night.
The humidifier is the little sidekick of our homes. It’s an essential household item that keeps our air fresh, easy to breathe, and free of germs.
However, as we already established, the superhero and its sidekick don’t make a good team. If you place a humidifier next to a smoke alarm, it will most likely start beeping.
So the main takeaway is to remember to keep your humidifiers at a 5 ft distance from your smoke alarm, install your smoke alarms on the ceiling, clean them regularly, and pick a good-quality model!