The Smoke Detectors originally put in by the builder are interconnected 120V models. They only work if you have power so if there is a fire that knocks out your electricity, they will not activate. They are interconnected so that if one activates, they all will so that you will more likely hear the detector activate even if the problem is downstairs or too far for you to hear the distant detector. A big problem is that smoke detectors have a useful rated life of ten years so they should be replaced if they have not been. Have you even checked your smoke detectors lately? Likely, you have only checked the one near the kitchen when it inadvertently activates while you are cooking. You should check them regularly. I found one of mine was no longer working.

We suggest that when you replace the detectors, you consider getting a similar interconnected type but one that has battery backup. In addition, if you want to add additional detectors (to add protection in the crawl space, for example), one of the new ones should have wireless capability so it can communicate with a wireless detector as interconnecting a new wired unit would be expensive. You can add multiple battery-powered wireless units that will work like the wired ones – they will all activate (both wireless and wired) if any one of them detects smoke.  You can replace with Kidde P12010 wired/battery alarms, one Kidde RF-SM-ACDC wired/battery with wireless communication to communicate to the wireless alarm and one Kidde RF-SM-DC wireless battery alarm for the crawl space which has no alarm.

One issue with the new alarms is that the connector for power/interconnect is not the same as the old type connector which is now obsolete. This means you have to replace the 110V connector. You should consider getting a qualified person to do it. The new connectors are included with the new alarms. As an alternative, you can simply replace all the alarms with RF-SM-DC wireless battery units which do not connect into 110V power. However, since these units are battery powered, their batteries will have to be replaced more often.

Note that if interconnected alarms activate, you need to check your whole house as you may hear the alarm nearest you because it is loudest but the problem could be near an  alarm somewhere else in your house. If you use non-interconnected alarms, you may not know there is a fire until the smoke gets to your closest alarm since a remote alarm may not be loud enough to hear so consider the interconnected ones.

Be sure to check your smoke detectors at least once a year.