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I finally set off the smoke detector!

I believe this is a record--nearly 4 months in the new place. So now it's officially my kitchen. :)

2 questions:

1) When is the kitchen officially yours? (for me, setting off the smoke detector!)

2) What is the longest you've gone before setting off/unplugging the smoke detector in your new kitchen?

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  1. Ugh. The smoke detector in my apartment is hardwired to the building. It's good b/c it means my neighbors can't disable theirs and potentially kill me when the alarm doesn't go off, but it's really annoying since I can't disable it when my cooking sets it off. Thankfully the detector is as far from the kitchen as possible (2 room apartment, so it's next to the bedroom door). I've only set it off 3 times in the past 3 years, always from food spilled on the oven floor or stove top. My upstairs neighbor, on the other hand, sets hers of at least once a week.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mpjmph

      The building managers should be able to fix that. Ours is hardwired as well, but it only sets off the whole building if the smoke or heat gets to a certain level (or perhaps it only sets off the building if it goes off for a certain period of time?). E.g. we've set it off in our apartment (it is about 4 feet from our very poorly ventilated stovetop), with no impact on the building. But, the other day, one woman must have set her entire dinner on fire, b/c there was so much smoke from her dinner (when I was descending the stairwell, it had fish-smelling smoke around her floor). It set off the whole building - 40 apartments of people, at dinnertime, wondering who did it, until the fire chief (and his three truckloads of firefighters) reamed her out for not telling them as they arrived that her apartment was the problem. I felt kind of bad for her - she was clearly just embarrassed.

      As for when it's fully my own: after I scrub out the cabinets and drawers and put in all of my plates, etc., and stock the fridge. I think the cleaning is the big part - scraping off any remnants of the prior tenant that the cleaning service is too rushed to get to.

      1. re: Cachetes

        oh... just read my post and realized how unclear it is - sorry! I've never actually set the alarm off for the whole building, my neighbor hasn't either. It's the same system as yours, if it goes off for a certain period of time without the button being pushed, then the rest of the building alarms go off. I can still hear my neighbor's, even though it's just her single detector. It's pretty routine now, I hear the initial beep-beep-beep, then thump, crash, and the sound of her running across the living room dragging a chair to reach the button.

        The very first time I set mine off it scared the crap out of me. I was roasting chicken, but the hand-me-down pan had lots of gunk on the bottom that I hadn't noticed. It burned off, I didn't think it was enough smoke to set off the alarm, but it was. I flung open the sliding glass door and slammed the screen shut, then grabbed a chair to reach the detector. You have to hold the button down for 30 seconds to get it to stop (with the speaker right next to your ear, of course). Once the alarm stopped I climbed down, relieved. Then I noticed that the screen door was still 6 inches ajar, and my cat was out on the patio (I live on the ground floor), one foot lifted, ready to step through the railing to freedom, and looking over her shoulder as if to see if I noticed/cared. Kitty was quickly scooped up and carried inside. I am now much more careful about turning on the vent fan and opening windows/closing screens before I start cooking anything even potentially smokey.

        1. re: mpjmph

          I love the description of kitty, foot over the edge, testing your love. I just checked our detector - no button. Hmm. I guess I'll have to stick with the "cookie-sheet transformed into industrial fan" method of stopping the alarm.

    2. Ours goes off everytime we use the oven (and I hear neighbouring ones go off on a regular basis). I believe it went off the first time about 2 weeks after moving in. We didn't cook the first couple of weeks; we were doing research on the local delivery options :).

      We have the habit now of taking it down and placing it in the middle of the bed when we turn on the oven, or when it goes off due to kitchen heat. That way we remember to put it back up before sleeping.

      1. They should really make those things so they are not so sensitive. People disconnect them cuz they get fed up. Mine is hardwired too, but it is disabled. It went off when I made toast, boiled a teakettle or farted...no more though...hee hee hee hee

        3 Replies
        1. re: billieboy

          We had 3 major apartment fires in my town last fall, several injuries and one death. Two of the fires destroyed entire buildings (20-30 units), the third damaged 3 apartments. All of them were electrical fires that started in kitchens with no one home, so they spread until people outside noticed the flames. I know the fire alarms are a pain, but for the sake of yourself (and your neighbors!) please don't disable the detector completely. I think Sooeygun has a decent Idea, though not feasible if the detector is hard wired. You could always buy another, battery operated one and do what Sooeygun does.

          1. re: mpjmph

            I understand the seriousness of smoke detectors and was hoping for a more lighthearted thread on setting them off.

          2. re: billieboy

            you must have some potent farts, billieboy!

          3. I have only set off the detector once. It was before we were married and I had the bright idea of doing blackened redfish in a tiny apartment. This was 15 or so years ago so I guess I've gotten pretty good at this whole cooking thing. When is the kitchen officially mine? When I walk in the door!

            1. Have you ever set off your carbon monoxide detector? For some reason every time I do a slow cooked braise with wine in it, it sets off my CO detector. The first time it happened I panicked and thought we had to evacuate but then figured out what it was. Now I just to try remember to unplug it and take out the battery before I start braising. Weird!

              1. My kitchen is officially mine when the all the dishes and silverware are in the cabinets and I've cooked my first meal...whether it's scrambled eggs and an English muffin or a roasted chicken with mashed potatoes and apple crisp for dessert.

                Other than making the bed and setting up the stereo, the kitchen is the first room I set up in a new apartment (and if I ever get around to buying a townhouse, it'll be the first room to set-up there as well!)

                As for setting off the smoke detector for the first time in a new place - it's usually within a month. You have to discover how good your stove/oven is (and more importantly, how good the fan is!). In my current place, I'm *ever* so lucky (NOT!) to have one of those non-vented fans that just blow the air back into the kitchen. So I regularly remove the smoke detector (on a wall on the far side of the kitchen) and hide it under a sweater or the comforter if I know I'm going to be smoking up the place.

                1. I lived in an apartment for years and never set off the detector, even after I was deepfrying in the wok and managed to tip the thing and pour oil all over the stovetop (I did not have sealed burners...) That stove never quite got clean. The detector was two rooms away.

                  In my current home I set it off weekly. Why don't they come with a remote control that I could press and disable the detector in 15 minute increments? It would be rigged to turn itself back on, so human laziness would not be a factor in safety.

                  I think a kitchen is mine once I get the spice drawer arranged just so and the cabinets and pantry filled in the most efficient and convenient manner, so everything that I love to use is just so. It helps to hang up a pan or gadget or curtains, but I think taking command of the total organizational scheme is essential.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: saltwater

                    saltwater, a GENIUS idea on the remote for SD's. You should contact a patent attorney and copyright your idea! (unless I do it first- cue the Snidely Whiplash music....) Adam

                  2. My SIL swears this is true:

                    During a lesson on home safety for third graders the teacher asks, "What does it mean when the smoke detector goes off?" My niece raises her hand and proudly announces, "It means that dinner is almost ready."

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: al b. darned

                      Just snorted coffee all over my keyboard.

                      1. re: al b. darned

                        Hehehe... When I was a teenager we moved to new (to us) house. The kitchen and and living room had an open layout, with a beam along the ceiling that separates the two areas, but no wall/door. When we first moved in the smoke detector was on the kitchen side of the beam, so it was more exposed to general kitchen smokiness. After the alarm went off for what seemed like the millionth time my mom, understandably frustrated, yelled "We have GOT to get a smoke detector that doesn't go off every time I cook." The next day a new detector was installed on the other side of the beam and the original detector was disabled.

                      2. Our smoke detector goes off all the time, although less now that we have a new oven. Bagels in the toaster still set it off - we usually have something handy to fan smoking sesame seeds.

                        As for when the kitchen became mine? I moved in with my husband and hated the kitchen at first. The kitchen itself was bad enough, but his dishes were the worst: BEIGE. They can make the prettiest meal look boring and unappetising. After about a year, I went to IKEA and bought some bright green and blue glass dishes. They're not my favourites but they marked my spot and gave me some domain over the kitchen. Now that we have remodeled, we still have both sets of dishes but the new kitchen is definitely mine!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: WTBD

                          I really dislike beige dishes. I don't know why, but yuck.

                          1. re: Caralien

                            Glad to know I'm not the only one!

                        2. take one of those plastic shower caps from a hotel(you know you take them, even if you have no real use for them) and before you start cooking put it over the smoke detector. problem solved, just remember to remove it!:-)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: nkeane

                            No use for them! Every loaf I bread I make proofs under those babies. Best and cheapest tool for the job.

                          2. By the way, Caralien...

                            How did you set off your smoke detector? Hope it was worth it!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: WTBD

                              I was making roast beef and there were drippings from the previous weekend's chicken on the disposable liner; since I had both liners still stacked, it was easy enough to remove it with a pair of tongs.

                              And yes, it was totally worth it! My husband actually said that his cravings for steakhouses is almost completely gone because of the roasts I started making in December...

                              (I just realised this may be interpreted in different ways, but let's just say he's very happy)

                              1. re: Caralien

                                Mmmm...roast dinner. So good.

                                We never ate much roasted meat or veg growing up so I didn't appreciate this fine art until I moved to England. Now I'm daydreaming about a Sunday roast...maybe lamb. Thanks for the inspiration!

                                Watch out, smoke alarm....

                            2. I've set it off a few times, but for the most random things [i.e. we weren't frying anything, or blackening anything, etc.]. I think this is because our stove's hood vent actually just vents back out into the kitchen and not up a hose and outside. I just vigorously fan the smoke detector with magazines to get it to stop shrieking until the next time...

                              1. A kitchen is mine when I can cook a meal in it without having to stop and figure out where I put tool or ingredient X when setting up the new kitchen.

                                1. We set ours off pretty frequently and often forget to put the battery back in after, sorry to say. It's so annoying because we cook at home a lot and it seems like it goes off every day.

                                  1. Come to think of it, I haven't set off the smoke detector in the new home yet - must check to see if that thing's working. Of course, the ceilings are higher and there's airconditioning (with windows often open), so that probably makes a difference. On the other hand, building maintenance is not quite up to snuff here, so I'd best check.

                                    The most exciting time I set the smoke detector off in my old townhouse in Canada was when it was about -25C outside, and I decided to make popcorn. I made fire for supper instead... I'd pulled out the popcorn pot, add oil, turned the electric burner up to Max, then decided to pop downstairs and find an old book I wanted to re-read.

                                    I set the smoke detector off, the dog off, and the cats off. I managed to cover the pot (which had big flames coming out the top), then had to open EVERY window in the townhouse, including the sliding doors to the snow-covered patio, turn on all of the ceiling fans, and then stand at the top of the stairs, worshiping the smoke detector with a tea towel until it (and the dog, and the cats) finally stopped issuing their respective alarms.

                                    Yes - the neighbours did come to check if things were all right, bless them. Then they laughed their butts off.

                                    1. EVERY time I cook I set off the fire alarms. Whoever decided to remodel the house before selling it followed every rule in the book when it came to the alarms (good for me)..there's one in every room. I can't cook anything over 450 degrees in the oven or they go off. By "they" I mean every, single one in the house. They are all hardwired with batteries as a back up. I have run around the house with a broomstick wacking all of them off the ceiling and throwing the batteries across the room. I've found that closing the all of the doors helps, but that just means that the screaming of the alarm is a bit muted. It drives me up a freaking wall.

                                      As for when a kitchen officially becomes mine..I think it becomes mine when I get comfortable in it. It may not be the first 1, 2 or 12 times cooking in it, but when I get to know the oven and where everything is around it.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: krisrishere

                                        kris, i have the same problem. there are smoke detectors all over my place, unfortunately including one about 4 feet away from my hoodless gas range & oven. the instant food hits a hot pan on the stovetop, that one starts screaming...and if i'm roasting anything in the oven at a temp above 425, that one, plus the hallway units and the ones in the adjacent rooms go off as well. it's a NIGHTMARE.

                                        to answer Caralien's initial question:
                                        1) the first time i use the oven (as opposed to the stove top)
                                        2) 2 years (which is also the longest i've ever lived in one place). come to think of it, until i moved into my current place i hadn't set off a smoke detector since college!

                                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                          Isn't it awful? It frustrates me to the point of insanity..I actually think that my blood pressure shoots through the roof! The worst was a week ago when I was making baked Mac n' Cheese. I wanted the panko just a *little* more brown and crusty on top so I put the broiler on low, knowing that if I opened the oven door too wide it would set the alarms off. I was SO careful, but they all went off, so I went running around the house like a madman (as usual), came back to the oven to find that my Mac n' Cheese was burnt. I think I wanted to hurt someone at that point.

                                          1. re: krisrishere

                                            Have you tried earplugs or a standing fan, at least while cooking?

                                            I know it seems extreme, but it seems insane that the smoke detectors you've described can't be set to a reasonable sensitivity.

                                            1. re: Caralien

                                              there's no way to adjust any settings on them.

                                              i've tried fans, open windows (not really an option right now with temps in the single digits), you name it - i even tried keeping the door to my unit open along with the windows AND while running a large floor fan, just to encourage cross-ventilation. shh, don't tell - it's against building regulations...it didn't work anyway. nothing does!

                                              i've taken to disconnecting them while i cook, because i was afraid my neighbors would really start to hate me. the construction of my building is incredibly solid - poured concrete - but the alarms are so ear-piercingly loud that when one in the unit above me malfunctioned early in the morning while they were away, it actually WOKE ME UP.

                                      2. I haven't tried a standing fan, but I have had all of my windows etc. open and they still tend to go off. I've looked at the alarms but there isn't anything that can be adjusted in that department. I'm beginning to think that mine has a CO2 sensor in it and my gas stove is setting it off.

                                        1. I hope you commemorated the moment with a toast of champagne.

                                          I set off the detector A LOT. Much to my husband's displeasure, I refuse to put on the fan. It is loud and jangles my nerves. Consequently - sausage frying at 7 am. Yep, it is his breakfast bell! Rise and shine unhappy camper! Plus, all the detectors are wired together so it goes off all over the house. Strangely, my dog is completely undisturbed by the alarm, but can manage to get in a lather over a cat who dares to set foot on the property. I digress.

                                          My husband will surely disconnect the one near the kitchen this summer. The wind blows in across the kitchen and the detector is hair trigger (I swear it is!). Summer it goes off nearly every day. 5 years and counting. We are either patient and accomodating or unbelievable freaks who should not be let near fire. By we I mean me.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                            alkisal, you choose to hear the smoke detector's wailing rather than using the fan because it is loud? hmmmm......... what's wrong with this picture? ;-). the adrenaline rush and fast-beating heart i get from alarms like that make it worth putting up with a fan.

                                            and if it is the security company smoke detector goes off in my home, the fire department is dispatched prior to the security company's call to the house to check up. then one has all those nice fire engines and sirens and loud dispatch radios and cute firefighters <well, *that part doesn't get to me> tromping up to the house in their massively heavy uniforms . and gawking neighbors out in their yards.... very unpleasant scene.

                                            now, if i suspect there'll be alarm-triggering smoke, i call the security company in advance, to ask them to "disregard" any alarm for the next "x" minutes.

                                          2. The kitchen is officially mine when something overflows and spills in the oven.

                                            1. Anyone have a remedy for the smoke alarm problem when you have high ceilings? Unfortunately I have 12-foot ceilings so can't disable the batteries or put a shower cap on it, so when it goes off I just start waiving a broom around! I'll be the first purchaser of the remote alarm disabler!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Produce Addict

                                                I have high ceilings, too, which is why I covet the remote control. We keep a stepstool at hand. Not much of a solution, I know.

                                                Or is it called a stepladder?

                                              2. Hehe - when I was in residence first year in College - I lived in an apartment style rez. There was a smoke detector RIGHT over the stove in each apartment. Inevitably between 5:30 - 8:00 there'd be a chorus of smoke detectors going off on our floor. Occasionally when my roomies and I were lazy, we'd follow the beeping of the smoke detectors and drop in on our neighbours for dinner!