My fire alarm always goes off when I cook, even when the food is not burning. Because of this, I have never been able to keep batteries in my fire alarms. How can I stop this from happening?

  • 2
    Where are your fire alarms? If they are too close to your kitchen, you may want to consider moving them to another room. Dec 14 '10 at 19:46
  • 1
    If there actually is smoke (I find even the tiniest amount sets mine off, similar situation), try running a fan under your alarm while cooking that blows smoke back towards the kitchen. It's the only thing that keeps mine from going off when I make steak.
    – justkt
    Dec 14 '10 at 19:58
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    This happens to me every time I burn my grilled cheese, which is unfortunately every time I make grilled cheese. My hearing is not that great anymore, but even I can't ignore the smoke alarm. Dec 15 '10 at 1:59

17 Answers 17


Many modern smoke/fire detectors have the ability to temporarily disable or decrease the sensitivity of the alarm for a short period of time, usually 15 or 20 minutes. At the end of the time period it returns to full sensitivity.

You may want to look into replacing your smoke detector with one of these.

  • 1
    Definitely, getting a smoke alarm with a silencer is the answer here. Everything else is just guessing.
    – Aaronut
    Dec 15 '10 at 1:05
  • I would like to add that this answer is probably the safest. Although I am unable to replace or remove the alarms that my apartment complex has provided, I am going to purchase one of these anyways and keep it near my bedroom. The main problem I'm worried about now is that I might forget to press the button or the time might not be long enough, and the alarm will go off. I'm not sure if you can stop it once its on, which is why I had to remove the batteries from the ones I have. Dec 15 '10 at 19:45
  • @Naomi: With this style of smoke detector you typically can stop it once its on, again only for a short period of time.
    – hobodave
    Dec 15 '10 at 22:30
  • I've never heard of this feature. Very cool.
    – Preston
    Jun 16 '14 at 2:50
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    @NaomiCampbell Or get one with a "hush button". It stops the alarm going off for the next 10 mins (either press it before cooking, or when the alarm goes off), without the safety concerns that come from removing the batteries. Jun 17 '14 at 22:15

Most modern smoke detectors check for a few things... smoke, heat, light (some check for rapidly changing light patterns). They can also be triggered by steam or aerosols.

So firstly, what is the source of the trigger? If your food isn't burning, is your oven clean? Is your stove clean? Just because you can't see the smoke, doesn't mean there isn't any.

Secondly, do you have a ventilation problem in your apartment? If you have a hood-fan, I'd use it. If you have a bathroom fan, you might consider turning that on. It might help a little to pull air in that direction. You could also open a window if the weather permits.

Thirdly, what is the age of the smoke detector? If it is too old, it might need a replacement. Some detectors are prone to false alarms after they get old.

Lastly, some detectors can also generate false alarms when they're dirty. (A good vacuuming might help if this is the case)

  • 1
    The key here is the source of the trigger and having the right alaRm(s). I had this problem...small house, ion type detector down the hall went off anytime I seared anything. I finally found out about paRticulaTe only alaRms, put one in the hall, moved the ion to the bedroom (no low smoke jokes please) and all haS been well. I didn't want the particulate to be the only detector, but the ion detector can now bw behind a closed door when I am cooking and the asmoke from cooking has not been enough to set off the new one. Dec 15 '10 at 2:14

There are all kinds of reasons fire/smoke alarms will go off when you're cooking. Sometimes, it's just flat-out smoke. Other times, atomized fats or even steam will be detected as smoke. Some detectors will also detect heat, and it's really easy to generate excess heat near the ceiling when cooking.

The only solution I know is to have the fire/smoke detector outside the kitchen. In our house, we have one that's directly outside the kitchen door in a hallway, which seems to provide enough separation from the kitchen for it to only go off in truly smoky situations.

If you really want to have the detector in the kitchen, put it as far from the oven/stove as possible, and perhaps see if you can find one that has a "pause" or "hold" button on it. You press the button and the detector goes dead for a predetermined length of time, giving you enough time to do your cooking without setting it off, then it comes back on automatically so you don't have to remember to restart it.

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    My apartment has two alarms and they are in the doorways by the bedrooms. Almost every time I use my oven, at least one of the two smoke alarms goes off. They are about 15-20 feet away from the oven. Any other suggestions would be appreciated. Dec 14 '10 at 19:49

The type of smoke detectors that go off for cooking are called ionization detectors. They use radioactive material, (Americium 241) to create an ion field. The best particle to attach to and disrupt the ion flow is a particle from the kitchen. These type of detectors also have a very high failure rate according to most all new testing. The answer is not silencing the detectors. It is to replace them with other types of detectors that are available. I have been in the fire safety business for almost 30 years. This is a very common problem. Heat detectors should be placed where smoke detectors can not. Those areas include kitchen, attic, garage, laundry rooms, furnace rooms, h20 heaters, etc. Smoke detectors are not to be put in these areas. THEY WILL NOT WORK! Photoelectric smoke detectors are a much better fit for life saving units over ionization. They detect true smoke, not kitchen odors. Best Wishes

  • 1
    I've got two, side by side, (one came with the place and the other is with the security system), and only one goes off with kitchen odors...this is explains it!
    – rfusca
    Feb 29 '12 at 22:52

There may be something on your oven elements that is burning, causing smoke. Contrary to what has been said above most of the commonly sold detectors do not detect heat. They detect Smoke. Heat Detectors are available but they are not as common. There are a small number of combo detectors. The reason? Smoke can move quickly through a house. The heat can take a while depending on the structure.

I would check to see if you have ventilation to help get the smoke out of the house. Some stove hoods are not properly vented and they do not remove cooking smoke from the house.

The worst thing you can do is remove the battery from a smoke detector as you will forget to put it back. You cannot imaging how many homes I have found after a fire that did not have batteries in the detector for this very reason.

If your detectors are old, they can also be prone to false alarms. Replace the battery 2 times a year and replace the detector every 10 years. Newer detectors are less prone to false alarms in some cases,

  • Are you a fireman? Jan 17 '12 at 16:13
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    Yes, I was a volunteer for 10 years and around the fire service all my life due to my dad who was one as well.
    – Doc Walker
    Jan 24 '12 at 21:11

I used to have this problem quite a bit. Well, almost. My recipe was always burning or boiling over, causing lots of smoke.

Removing the batteries is an okay solution, but obviously that doesn't offer you much fire alarm protection. You can run up and waft the air around it, but that is a hassle to do ever time.

My solution was a bit hack-y, but it works. I took one of those souvenir fans you get at Six Flags, and affixed it to a coat hanger with some hot glue. A lot of hot glue. Then I just bent the coat hanger around the fire detector until it stayed.

Before I cook, I'll turn it on and enjoy a quiet home.

Just make sure to not glue over the battery holder. I did that at first, and it was a real pain to change the batteries. I suppose a normal fan would work, but I couldnt' figure out a way to mount it easily.

  • I don't understand how this would work if the "smoke" got behind the fan. Wouldn't it still go off from "smoke" being pushed across the sensors? I'm not sure if a small fan could block all smoke from getting around the back side. Dec 15 '10 at 19:42
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    @NaomiCampbell The air movement from the fan should keep the sensor clear enough to keep it from getting tripped by anything less than an actual fire. When mine goes off, I grab the nearest magazine and fan it for a few seconds and it stops.
    – edsobo
    Jan 17 '12 at 21:21

Make sure the kitchen vent fan functions properly and is running when the oven is in use.

Properly, in my experience means it actually vents out of the building, not in circles though an ineffective filter as some cheap "no duct required" "not actually a vent" range hoods do. You may need to service/oil the fan or clean the ducts or grease filters. You may need to install an actual ducted vent fan, have one installed, or move to an apartment that has one if your landlord is not amenable.

Disabling your smoke detectors is a poor solution that can backfire on you when you forget to re-enable them, and go to sleep.

  • 1
    While this is a great idea for home owners and people who maintain their own kitchens, and probably the real solution, unfortunately renters have no way to run "real" vents and might be kind of stuck with what they have (no matter how brain dead the setup is). In any case, I have a new item on my list of things to check when looking for apartments ("actual ducted oven vent fan"), I wish somebody would have mentioned that as a thing to check before I signed the lease.
    – jrh
    Dec 3 '17 at 23:44

What type of smoke detector? Most you'll find in homes are either optical or ionization. Ionization detectors are more prone to false alarms, so don't do so well in kitchens. Wikipedia has a reasonable description of the differences.


if you're not up for replacing your fire alarm, there's a simple low-tech solution: use a can of compressed air (the kind that you use for blowing dust off your keyboard -- endust and dust-off are popular brands). a quick blast of compressed air into the fire alarm works like a charm -- and still leaves the detector operable.

  • I'm not sure if this is a good idea -- canned air results in moisture issues, and that might be bad for the detector's reliability.
    – Joe
    Nov 16 '16 at 20:49

Use the smoke alarm in another room and buy a temperature alarm for the kitchen instead.

A temperature alarm is activated when either the temperature becomes high or if the temperature suddenly rises rapidly.

An example:



Just wrap clingfilm round the detector but take it off when cooking is done/

  • I was reading Alton Brown's new book and he recommended aluminum foil -- but also putting up a note in the kitchen to remember to take it off afterwards.
    – Joe
    Nov 16 '16 at 20:50

The fire alarm goes off when I cook too. Even when there is not much smoke, or not smoke at all, it goes off. The way I prevent this from happening is opening all my windows so that the fresh air can come in and the smoke can go out. It really works!


Depending on how handy you are with a soldering iron, you could hack the detector itself to add a switch between the battery lead and the rest of the electronics. This doesn't solve the problem of forgetting to turn it back on when you're done, but it makes it a heck of a lot easier to turn off and back on than by taking the battery out. It should be said that if you are going to create such a Franken-detector, you should check that it's not illegal or disallowed by your lease, if you have one, and test it extensively before counting on it to save you in an emergency.


When we had that problem, we used a fan and directed it towards the smoke/CO2 detector. Worked like a charm.


The easiest way is what I do. My smoke alarms constantly go off everyday every time we cook as well and it won’t stop. It’s very annoying and deafening. I tried removing the batteries and that doesn’t even work and it still constantly goes off.

I put a piece of tape over the fire detector speaker and the alarm is only 20-40% of what it normally is. This way:

  1. You're still being “safe” and can hear the alarm if it goes off for real smoke.

  2. It’s not deafening loud and annoying anymore.

So even when it goes off now I can cook in peace and not be so annoyed.

  • Hello, and welcome to Seasoned Advice. Interesting idea, but boy; I hope you don't have occasion to rue that the smoke alarm wasn't loud enough. Dec 29 '18 at 0:46

Plastic bag it with a rubber band


An apartment I lived in had detectors that went off while cooking. They put a light cloth filter cover that went over then secured it with a rubber band. According to them if the smoke built up in an actual fire it would penetrate and still set the alarm off. As an alternative to that, after I moved I would use a jay cloth and secure it with a rubber band. When I tested it with burning paper below it it still went off but it did eliminate the false cooking alarms. It's not really pretty but it worked, even if just put up temporarily put while cooking.

  • 1
    Who is "them" that guarantees this is safe? This method seems a bit dangerous to me. Jan 17 '12 at 16:11

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