Monday, October 22, 2012

My freaking oven

So this weekend I attempted to bake a pumpkin custard pie. In the middle of baking the pie, our fire alarm went off THREE TIMES.

Believe me when I say that there was zero smoke. We had a guest over yesterday and he actually said, "Why is your fire alarm going off when there's no smoke?"

It went off...

1) While I was pre-heating the oven

2) When I opened the oven to put the pie inside

3) When I opened the oven to take the pie out

Basically, unless the oven is absolutely spotless (my cleaning it usually isn't good enough... it has to be a professional), the fire alarm goes off every single time I use it. There's a fan over the stove that helps a little, but the alarm still usually goes off.

I've never had this issue any other place where I've lived. I mean, yes, I've set off the fire alarm a few times, but only when the entire kitchen was filled with smoke. I remember at my parents' house when I was a kid, I actually set fire to the toaster and the fire alarm didn't go off. There were literally flames shooting out of the toaster and no fire alarm.

I'm not saying that I want to have a crappy fire alarm. I don't want to die in a fiery blaze. But it would also be nice if I could pre-heat my freaking oven without the fire alarm making us all deaf.

I called maintenance several times. They checked the oven and "it's fine." They checked the fire alarm and "it's fine."

I don't know what to do. How am I going to start my second career as a famous chef if I can't even turn on the oven?


  1. Tabitha's family has this problem. They have two solutions:
    1) They have a pillow permanently living in the kitchen so that they can fan the smoke detector every time it goes off.
    2) They take the battery out of the smoke detector every time they get tired of fanning it.
    Downside: If you forget to put the battery back in the detector, you are doomed if there's an actual fire & you don't smell it. Plus, when you have guests (like me), they give you really strange looks and ask you why you need a pillow in your kitchen.

    Best wishes,

  2. Some smoke detectors also register rapid increases in heat. This could be what is giving yours fits.

  3. If you fix it, how else will your family know that dinner is ready?

  4. Could it be a dual-duty smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector? If it's a gas oven, it could be putting out carbon monoxide. Maybe you need to get your oven checked.

  5. The smoke detector is in the wrong location (not a firefighter, but husband is one and a former alarm tech). See about moving it, having maintenance or alarm company move it.

  6. get a convection oven!

  7. I just pulled the battery out of mine because I was sick of dealing with it. I guess I'll die in a fiery blaze :(

  8. Mine does this too! I am positive it's just the heat. We just unplug the thing every time the oven gets turned on

  9. Crowned: I guess I am not the only one whose family thinks that the smoke detector is equivalent to a dinner bell.

    We used to have the same problem. Here is how we addressed it. Our problem is not with the oven -- actually, even the gazillion degree self-cleaning feature doesn't upset the detector -- but, we cannot cook anything on top of the stove, including water, without the thing screaming for 8 to 10 minutes.

    This is how we dealt with it, based on the adage that prevention is better than cure. Follow these directions exactly for best results: First, open all windows and doors within 12 feet of the stove. It matters not the weather; noise pollution is far worse. (2)Buy a small electric fan and direct it at the smoke detector. In my apartment with high ceilings, I have to make my 6'1" daughter perch precariously on the top of a step stool with the electric fan in one hand and a magazine or towel in the other for bidirectional air flow. (3) Turn on the range hood vent to high. This is so noisy, you may not even notice when the alarm goes off. (4) Make sure that whatever is on the stove is tightly lidded until the RIGHT moment. Now, here comes the event: (5) Take the lid off the offending pot of pasta water while your assistant is madly fanning the smoke detector and snow is coming in through the windows. It works. Really. Unfortunately, this maneuver must continue until whatever it is is cooked and the pot is no longer on the stove. At some point, you will also probably have to help your assistant off the floor and check for fractures while the pasta overcooks.

    I kid you not. If I try to grill steak or salmon on top of the stove, it is even more complicated and the (real) smoke makes the detector even angrier and more unlikely to stop once it gets going.

    Maintenance came several times to our unit and changed detectors, batteries, and connections, telling me each time that the detector was working properly. Yeah, right. I finally gave up and, using the aforementioned step stool and tall daughter, we unscrewed the protective covering from the smoke detector and removed the battery. I figured that the unit is not that big and there are two or three other detectors, so I would get some advanced warning. Peace reigned. For a little while.

    You see, every three or four months, maintenance comes by to change heating/AC filters and check whatever it is they check. They also always notice the wires hanging from the ceiling where a smoke detector should be. They reconnect the thing, put in a new battery, and leave stern warnings about disconnecting it. After every maintenance visit, we disconnect it. This ballet has been going on for two years. We have tried rigging the thing so it appears functional without actually being functional, but maintenance figures it out every time. On the bright side, we are now on a first name basis with our maintenance provider and he gives us a heads-up when fire prevention inspections will be going on. Tricia

    1. Thank god we can cook stuff on the stovetop without a problem. I might move if we couldn't. Or really disconnect the alarm, at least. (We do have several of them.) I guess we need to be more diligent about turning on fans for now.

  10. Mine used to go off with any steam -INCLUDING MY SHOWER! DAILY! Your alarm is a heat sensor. I took mine out and got ones that actually pick up smoke. My showers weren't that long or hot!