Menehunes in the Maui Smoke Detectors?

IMG_9886That was one of the suggestions to our inquiries if Maui households were experiencing unexplainable “false alarms” from their home’s battery powered smoke alarm on or around Christmas. Have you had such an experience in past few days.

For reasons (so far) unknown, some household detectors are sounding when there is no physical cause. Replacing the battery has little to no effect. There have been reports in South and Central Maui.

Other suggested potential causes for this action include:

* Combining sealed up homes due to much recent rain and chilly weather, combined with unusual amount of holiday cooking and baking ( and some heating) set off alarms;

* Excessive vog;

* Dampness affecting contacts in alarms;

* Excessive airborne chemicals;

* Seasonal influx of celebrities cause excessive hot air- this was discounted, as nothing occurred in height of elections;

  • Batch of “bad” batteries sold locally;
  • Hoax We discounted this as we have first hand knowledge of the character of some of those affected;

Thus we reach out to you to see if you or someone you know has been affected, as we continue monitoring the situation. Please add a comment to this post, if you can contribute.

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5 Responses to “Menehunes in the Maui Smoke Detectors?”

  1. Aloha all,
    I’m an RF engineer by trade. During the same time period as the smoke detector issue was occuring I observed that my water heater moisture detector alarm sounded, my USB music player began playing spontaneously, my microwave oven clock reset as did my bedside alarm clock and the clock on my stove. All of these were AC line powered and I attributed the issue to some kind of power line spike. As it turns out, my UPS power supplies did not record any spike. It made me consider whether or not some kind of environmental electromagnetic pulse was responsible.

    As it turns out, a series of 3 Coronal Mass Ejection events occurred close to that time frame causing a dramatic change in the cosmic ray background (see:
    Of course, correlation doesn’t automatically imply causation but when I red the article about smoke detectors it made me go “hmmmmm…”

    Maybe there’s an investigative report here to see if other electrical anomalies were observed on the island.

  2. About a month ago my smoke detector acted up. I thought it was a low battery, so I replaced the old with a new one. It still acted up. So I threw out the detector.

  3. I live in N. Kihei, where at least 6 times in December alone heavy cane burning was evident, lots of smoke and lots of ash some up to 6” in length coating everything. It seems like this burning season has been particularly bad this year. Possibly the smoke is the problem. Something in the smoke might cause it adhere to the lens inside the detector, build up to a point which would simulate smoke blocking the lens, and the signal wouldn’t stop unless the detection parts are cleaned.

  4. I think the false alarms are caused by the dust from HC&S ag operations. Also from the build up of soot from cane burning.

    Although I finally gave up and disconnected my alarms, I think that if you clean them weekly, you might be able to prevent the soot and dust buildup and consequent false alarms.

    (Imagine, though, what this is doing to your lungs!)

    Hopefully cane burning/tilling season is over until March. Once it resumes you can report smoke and ash at ground level through the free CleanAirMaui phone app or by going to

    To see the over 1,000 complaints made to the Dept of Health in 2014 go to

  5. David Schoonover January 19, 2015 at 9:16 am

    We have this problem, have had it for years. Usually, when we switch on a light near a smoke detector. My best guess: bugs, spiders, or little geckos inside the detectors that move when startled by the light going on. It stops spontaneously. (We have the dual-function type smoke detector, so part of it responds to visible blockage). Smoke detectors can and should be cleaned regularly – take ’em down and blow the dust out.