02 March 2010



Last week, around 3 a.m., there it was.


Somewhere in the house. Was it electronic, or alive? Probably electronic, but it didn't sound like any of our cordless or mobile phones when their batteries die. Then again, a few seconds later.


I got out of bed and stood in the hall, in the dark.


It seemed everywhere and nowhere. Was it upstairs or down? Living room? Kitchen? Bathroom? Downstairs office? In the walls?!

I waited.

Nothing. It had stopped before I could isolate it. Was it a battery not quite depleted enough? Or something that heard me? No way to know, so I went back to bed.

In the morning I saw that our new PVR was full, deleting the oldest recorded programs to make room for new ones. Perhaps it had chirped a warning? I purged some archives, leaving lots of room. Taken care of, perhaps.

I'm not sure if it was the next night, or maybe two later. 5 a.m.


I was up immediately, head cocked to the side. Where was it? What was it?


Maybe it was a phone after all, left out on a table or sucked inside the couch cushions. Or some other device we have that I'd forgotten about, an old Tamagotchi or McDonald's Happy Meal promotional toy, perhaps?

Silence again. Nothing. Back to bed, until the next night, only 1:30 a.m. this time.


Wait, it was quieter in the kitchen and bathroom. More to the front of the house.


Downstairs! I crept down our creaky steps, not wanting to wake everyone else.


In the carport? That didn't make sense.


Nope. Laundry room.


And I was staring at it, right over my head. The basement smoke detector, whose 9-volt battery was weakest late at night, when the house is coldest and electron-moving chemical reactions slowest. I pulled it down, removed the battery, and stomped back to sleep.

We had peace at night now. Until a couple of nights later, 2 a.m.


What the hell?

I immediately went downstairs. No, it wasn't the laundry room smoke alarm. That still lay on the dryer, dead battery beside it. Pushing its test button did nothing.


My younger daughter L's room. I'd forgotten that we'd bought two smoke detectors, of the same brand, with the same batteries in them, on the same day when we renovated her bedroom so she could move downstairs.


I wanted to rip it off the wall, but L was asleep right there, so I gingerly rotated it out of its mount, took it to the laundry room, tore out the battery, and left it in a heap beside its twin. In the morning she asked me why it was missing from the wall, and I explained.

Both alarms have new batteries now, and next time I hear that chirp, I'll know exactly where it's coming from.

Labels: , , , ,


LOL! Been there, done that, Derek.
I'm going through the same thing - but it's not the smoke detectors, the CO2 detectors, a battery in the build-in alarm system or any computer equipment.

It's driving me slowly out of my mind.
Haha! Oh yes! Happened to me too. You buy the alarms and the batteries in multiple packs and they always seem to give up around the same time - usually in the depths of the night! Hope you get caught up on sleep.
Great story. People get a little more nuts in the middle of the night too. When you're tired you will do WHATEVER it takes to get back to bed.
We won a refrigerator on Wheel of Fortune about 25 years ago. I hooked up the ice maker and went to bed. Awakened by someone breaking in the house, but what I heard was the first ice cycle dropping in an empty bin. It always seems to happen at night. Great story Derek!
I hate, HATE, errant beeping! If someone leaves their phone and it beeps I get so annoyed!
Ha! So I'm not the only one this has happened to. The one that was chirping in my apartment was on the ceiling, over 25 ft up. Couldn't reach it from the loft, either had to get a Looooooooong ladder to change it. and you just can't find one of those at 3am :)

Thinkgeek also makes a little quarter-sized "random beep generator" that you can buy for a couple bucks and hide in someone's drawer or something to drive them mad :)
I did a similar blog entry when I had a night of beeping a few years ago -> https://www.duanestorey.com/blog/bits-and-bites/things-that-go-beep-in-the-night/
I've so been there.

Even better than my tales of frustration though was my parents'

They went for a month of disturbed sleep from a mysterious chirping/beeping/squeaking somewhere in their bedroom. They thought they had mice and cleaned out their closets in preparation for installing traps. That was when they stumbled across the smoke alarm that I'd bought for them about 18 months earlier and they'd never got around to installing.

They took that as a hint and installed the damn smoke alarm.