The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) has posted advisories and recalls on 3 smoke detectors from Digital Security Controls, First Alert and BRK.
Digital Security Controls has recalled its FSA and FSB series photo-electric smoke detectors. These detectors are hard-wired into the home's electrical service. Owners are advised to contact their installer and have an inspection to determine if their units are part of the recall. The company will replace any affected unit with a free replacement, fully installed. Customers with questions may contact Digital Security Controls at 1-877-666-1250 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday or visit their web site at www.dsc.com.
First Alert OneLink battery-powered smoke alarms and combination smoke and carbon monoxide detectors with model numbers SA500 or SCO500 and a date code prior to March 3, 2006 are being recalled. Hard-wired units are not affected by this recall. The units in question have a premature low-battery reading, signaled by a chirping sound. The company insists that the units continue to sense smoke and carbon monoxide while the battery is low. The company is urging customers to contact them at 1-800-323-9005 to receive free replacement alarm(s). Until the alarms arrive, customers should keep the alarms in working order by testing the batteries weekly and replacing them when dead or low. Customers will be required to return a portion of the defective alarm in a postage-paid envelope provided. When calling, customers should be prepared to give the date code on the alarm in question.
BRK Brands hard-wired smoke detectors with batter backup, model numbers 4120B and 4120SB, manufactured prior to October 2000, must have their batteries replaced. The original Eveready Heavy-Duty batteries numbered 1222 or Eveready Energizer Max batteries numbered 522 must be replaced with Eveready batteries to ensure safe operation. Reports show that replacing the battery with another brand could result in deterioration or splitting of the battery. Owners should always wash hands after replacing batteries and avoid touching their eyes after handling batteries. For further questions, contact BRK Brands, Inc. at 1-800-323-9005.
Reminder: check batteries regularly and replace battery-powered detectors that are more than 5 years old and hard-wired detectors that are 10 years old.
I am having the exact problem as we speak...and I did have a bulging battery...but now I'm paying for it...the chirps/beeps/whatever is driving me out of my bed!!!!! Just confirming what Deb found....I will be calling first thing in the morning!! (see info below)
BKR Smoke Alarms May Not Function As Designed Due to Battery Incompatability Issues
Smoke detector hitch worries fire officials By Susan Weich ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH 03/08/2006
ST. CHARLES COUNTY
An older model smoke detector and a 9-volt battery could add up to a potentially dangerous combination for homeowners, fire officials said Wednesday.
Firefighters in St. Charles County say they have answered six calls in the past month where residents complained that their hard-wired smoke detectors were making a chirping noise that usually signals when the backup battery needs to be replaced.
What firefighters found were batteries that either were bulging or had burst and had leaked battery acid into the device, making it unclear whether the alarm was still working.
The malfunction is happening when BRK/First Alert brand smoke detectors with the model numbers 4120B or 4120SB are paired with replacement batteries other than Eveready brand Nos. 1222 or 522.
"This could affect thousands of homes in the metropolitan area," said Scott Avery, public information officer for the O'Fallon Fire Protection District. "It's important that homeowners check to see if they've got this type of smoke detector, and if they have a problem, they need to get it replaced."
Deborah Hanson, a spokeswoman for BRK, said problems with battery replacement had been rare and that a recall of the product had never been deemed necessary.
"This is an older unit that is not on the market anymore," she said.
The company will provide replacements for malfunctioning detectors, she said.
Only those customers who sent in their warranty registration were sent notification that they should use Eveready batteries only, fire officials say. They worry that the problem may be widespread because unless homeowners have noticed a bulging battery, they may not realize they have a problem.
The smoke detectors were made from January 1998 to October 2000 and were placed in a large number of homes built around the same time. In fast-growing O'Fallon, 72 subdivisions were under construction during those dates, and firefighters estimate that 4,000 homes could be affected. A sampling of fire officials in St. Louis County, Jefferson County and Illinois said they were unaware of the problem and have gotten no similar calls.
BRK's Web site maintains that the smoke alarm will continue to function and that the problem has resulted in no personal injury or property damage other than to the battery itself.
Avery expressed concern about homeowner safety if the detectors are damaged. He said pressing the test button on the smoke detector will only tell homeowners if the electrical circuit is intact, not whether the photo cell that detects smoke is working.
He recommends that homeowners check to see if they have the specific type of detector in question and inspect the battery to find out if it has expanded or leaked.
In five of the six St. Charles County cases, the batteries that burst or bulged have been Duracell brand; the other battery was a Panasonic brand.
Kara Salzillo, spokeswoman for Duracell, said the company has received a limited number of reports about the problem.
"Due to the design of the smoke detector's battery cavity, this unit can malfunction, allowing household electricity to inadvertently 'charge' the backup battery," Salzillo said. "This may cause the battery to overcharge within the device, generating a 'popping' sound."
A side-by-side comparison of the Duracell and Eveready 9-volt batteries showed that the Duracell battery is slightly taller, causing its incompatibility with the safety device.
Hanson of BRK said any homeowners who have experienced problems with the affected model should call their customer service hot line, 1-800-323-9005, to get a new smoke detector.