Smoke Alarm going haywire? Well it's not Ghosts!

Can ghosts and spirits trying to manifest cause smoke alarm detectors to sound off?

Date: 21st May 2018

"I think I have ghosts in my house as my smoke alarm detectors keep sounding off at certain times of the day! Can ghosts set off smoke detectors?"

The answer to this question is

“Yes they can” and “No they can't”!


Don't be... as surprisingly it's a question that can not be answered with any factual basis either way. You see the skeptic will say “Oh don't be silly!” whereas the believer will say “Ghosts will take and draw energy from anything so it is possible”.

For us to understand this problem of smoke alarms being set off we need to take an account what might cause this problem.

Case Study:

It has been reported by someone that their smoke alarms have been going off every night at 9:00pm. Nothing is on fire and there's no smoke. The alarms just go off! It's a new house purchased from the builder. The smoke alarms are brand new, but every night one of the alarms go off. They decided to change the batteries but the same thing happened again... at the same time the following night.

So what was declared was what some believers that will undoubtedly say: “It is theoretically possible that a passing spirit or ghost could produce the type of behavior. Even those ghosts or spirits that try to manifest can cause fluctuation in electromagnetic energy and cause the type of activity we've observed in our smoke alarms here.”

But what of the non-supernatural possibilities?

If you do your research you will find a myriad of rational, factual and scientific possibilities of why ghosts and spirits are not the cause of them sounding off.

First of all you have to look into the differing types of alarms there are on the market... and to ensure you know the difference between a heat detector and a smoke detector – as this will be the primary cause of false alarms due to the lack of knowledge of where to situate them. Believe me when I say even the best builder in the world might not understand the correct use and siting of each type. After all... one would not fit a smoke detector in a kitchen or a steam one in a bathroom... but you might be surprised that it does happen!

Also you have to also realise you can get battery powered or actual mains powered units. In modern built homes they are mains powered with battery back-up if required. Older properties it is too much to have retro-fitted mains-powered systems... so one can go down to a local store and pick up a relatively cheap battery unit and fit it. But if you fit the wrong type in the wrong location you might soon find yourself alarmed quite literally!

Even down to their very construction and operation, you can get optical detectors, smoke detectors... and a combination set up.

Heat Detectors:

These are the oldest type of automatic fire detection device. Heat detectors feature a detecting element inside the unit that activates when it reaches a predetermined fixed temperature or when a specific increase in temperature has occurred.

Smoke Alarms:

These will detect most fires more rapidly than heat detectors. There are currently three types of smoke alarms on the market:

  1. An ionization smoke alarm contains a small amount of radioactive material. The radiation passes through an ionization chamber which is an air-filled space between two electrodes and permits a small, constant current between the electrodes. Any smoke that enters the chamber absorbs the alpha particles, which reduces the ionization and interrupts this current, setting off the alarm. This type of alarm responds best to fast raging fires.
  2. Photoelectric smoke alarms operate using a light source, a light beam collimating system and a photoelectric sensor. When smoke enters the optical chamber and crosses the path of the light beam, some light is scattered by the smoke particles, directing it at the sensor and thus activating the alarm. This type of alarm responds best to slow smoldering fires.
  3. Combination smoke alarms feature both ionization and photoelectric technologies.

It is a fact that there are many things that can contribute to smoke alarms going off at the wrong time. Many modern smoke alarms are also triggered by intense heat. So, if it is very hot and your attic is excessively hot sometimes that will heat the ceiling and trigger the smoke alarm. Also, if hot steam from a shower rises up this could trigger the smoke alarm. It is also always possible that the things are broken and need repair. You can easily rule out the smoke alarm being broken by getting the unit causing the problem replaced.

One could also rule out the attic heat hypothesis by going up into the attic and finding that it was not really hot up there. This can only leave the steam possibility.

With regards to the Case Study earlier: It was found that the person's son has a shower every night around that time of the alarm issues. After examining this it was found that upon opening the bathroom door, all the hot steam was released onto the smoke detector causing it to go off. This in itself was found to be placed too close to the bathroom and as such was liable to be set off by steam (if ever you go into certain hotels you will find they place signs in the bathroom asking to ensure the door is shut whilst using the shower for this very reason).

Insects and bugs?

Another possibility is that insects can fly in and get caught inside the unit causing it to go off on a false alarm basis. This has occurred on numerous occasions around the world that it is part of the guidelines that homeowners must ensure they brush or vacuum the units to clean out any dust, bugs and even spider webs from the sensors.

Air Flow Venting and Ducts?

Yes, as crazy as it sounds, placing or fitting of smoke alarm detectors in close proximity to venting and ducting systems can cause false alarms due to air flow. Any dust or vapour flowing within the air currents can get caught or flow into the sensor causing these false alarms.

Placement of Alarm Smoke Detectors!

There are many places in modern homes where a smoke alarm detector can be fitted: in lounges, kitchens, hallways, landings, bedrooms... even attics and garages. Some will even fit them into their sheds! I jest not!

So ensure that when one of these goes off it might be something of a natural and environmental reason and nothing at all to do with ghosts and spirits as some might carelessly state.


So in reality can ghosts cause smoke detectors to go off? Not really. There is more likely a rational reason for them going off for no known reason other than accidental intervention from someone or something – like an insect or other... but not from a paranormal source...

“But what about all the other alarms that go off too?” some might ask. “It has been reported on some occasions that all alarms in a house will go off.”

Most, if not all modern smoke detection alarms, will be hard-wired into the mains electric. If more than one is fitted they will most likely be wired in link with each other – meaning if one goes off the others will sound off too. This is due to anyone in the house wherever they may be will be informed via the alarm that there is potentially a fire somewhere in the house. Interlinked smoke alarms are becoming more and more popular as they quickly alert you to the event of a fire across larger houses, where there is a risk that you might not hear an alarm going off in the kitchen when you are, for example, in a bedroom upstairs.

Whether connected to each other with wire or wireless technology through radio frequency, interlinked smoke alarms allow you to connect multiple units – including different types of detectors – which will all sound at the same time when a single alarm detects a potential fire. The heat alarm in the kitchen, the ionisation alarm in your home office, and the specialist strobe and vibration alarm in your elderly parents’ bedroom, for example, will all go off at the same time, if just one alarm is triggered by fire.

Another thing to remember is that these modern alarms being Wi-fi based systems... Wi-fi can be disrupted by radio signals from mobile masts, radio transmissions and other sources. It has also been identified that operating your simple TV remote could cause a smoke detector to sound off.

So don't assume that a smoke alarm going off out of the ordinary is down to ghosts or spirits, etc.