Smoke detectors are essential home safety fixtures, but some can be a bit overzealous — sounding their alarm if you leave your English muffin in the toaster a minute or two too long.
Of course you want your smoke detector to continue to do its job, but there are ways you can (safely) prevent it from going off when you’re cooking. Here’s what to know.
How to stop your smoke detector from going off while cooking
As annoying as the endless beeping can be, the fact that your smoke detector goes off when you’re baking, roasting, toasting, or frying is an indication that it is in working order.
And while it may be tempting to simply remove its batteries, don’t do it: It’s too easy to forget to put them back in, which would leave that part of your home without the important safety device.
You’re probably familiar with tactics like opening a window or waving a towel in front of a smoke detector to stop it from going off while you’re cooking, but here are a few more permanent solutions:
Rethink its placement
Ideally, your smoke detector should be at least 3.05 m away from your oven, toaster, air fryer, or any other appliance where cooking may produce smoke. Keep in mind that this applies even if it’s not technically placed inside your kitchen; for instance, if it’s in a hallway, dining room, pantry, or another adjacent room that’s fewer than 3.05 m from where you cook.
Opt for a photoelectric smoke detector
There are two types of smoke detectors: Photoelectric and ionization. Photoelectric smoke detectors are less sensitive to steam, and tend to be a better choice for kitchens (and bathrooms with tubs or showers).
Replace the batteries
When your smoke detector’s battery is on its way out, it may go off when there isn’t actually any smoke. Here’s an explanation from the University of South Carolina’s College of Engineering and Computing:
In most sensors you might think of, the strength of the signal goes up when they detect what they’re supposed to. But most smoke detectors are instead designed to go off when their electrical current goes down. That’s because smoke in the air will reduce the current. If your battery is dying, the current that’s flowing through your sensor also goes down. And so you can get a false positive.
As a general rule, change the batteries in your smoke detector twice a year.