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When your smoke detectors battery is dying, it chirps every 30 seconds to remind you to change it. I am in middle of my Friday night meal when this began. May I move the smoke detector to a area where it will not disturb me with a Shinui, or is there any other ideas that are Halachically permissible?

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Cover it with a heavy blanket if possible. – sam Apr 21 '13 at 3:10
@Sam: That is a bit rough if it is hanging on the ceiling or wall. – Gershon Gold Apr 21 '13 at 3:16
Found this from Din Online,good mekoros… – sam Apr 21 '13 at 3:18

4 Answers 4

Hinting to a non jew to help you (without telling them explicitly) could do the trick. Before you find someone to remove the battery place a chair underneath ceiling where the smoke alarm is. Although it could be considered dangerous to have a non-functioning smoke alarm over shabbat, it may be a temporary solution before you can replace the battery.

If its still light outside on friday night and you've brought shabbat in early, it may be permissible to ask someone explicitly, even a Jew who hasn't brought shabbat in yet (needs source?).

the orchot hashabat says (chelek 2, perek 23, footnote 46): "...the only heter of hinting [to a non Jew] is by means of removing a thing which is a nuisance, like extinguishing a candle [when trying to sleep], or in a case whereby he is only increasing benefit e.g. hinting for him to add an additional candle, for in these cases there is no issue of increasing benefit from a non Jew's melacha... this is only permitted by 'derech sippur', not directly asking them" (my paraphrasing).

By extrapolation one could be allowed to hint to a non Jew to remove the battery from something that is being a nuisance, like a dying smoke alarm. This can not be via a direct command. Something like "hello, isn't that noise annoying" would be an example.

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Someone I know, who knows halacha, suggested to me tentatively that a smoke detector is movable (it is a keli shem'lachto l'heter or, at worst, a keli shem'lachto l'isur, still movable under the circumstances) and that one could remove it from the wall (if it's not screwed in, as many are not) and hide it in a room where it will not be heard. He was unwilling to recommend I rely on this suggestion, but saw no reason it should be incorrect. As always, consult your own rabbi for a final ruling.

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This is my eitza too. I have done this with rogue alarm clocks. One shita though that i personally don't agree with but should be considered is that anything permanently attached to a house, no matter how loosely, would be a problem of Soser when removing and Binyan when attaching. So yeah, cylor. – user6591 Dec 17 '14 at 2:30

I'm not observant, but I live in a NY suburb and the tragic loss of seven children and the anguish of their father while their mother and an eighth child struggle for their lives has been the lead story on the news since Saturday morning. According to news reports, the home had no functioning smoke detectors. Apparently the fire was started by a hot plate that had been left on for Shabbat.

I did a search to see whether smoke alarms themselves somehow violate Shabbat when I found this site. Many of the responses to this predicament involve moving or covering the offending smoke alarm rendering it useless. Unless it is one of many smoke detectors in the home (which, by rights, it should be) this could be a deadly mistake. From what I've read in the manuals of my own detectors, the chirping smoke alarm continues to function as a smoke alarm for a period of time while it reminds you to change the battery. If you have no alternative then you must simply live with the annoying chirping until after Shabbat.

If this is impossible, then find a way to reconcile your sabbath observance with the need to preserve life and change the battery anyway. Surely saving life takes precedence over any Jewish law.

The best "solution" is to prevent this from even happening in the first place. Change the batteries twice a year. They used to say when you change the clocks but now that we have "standard time" only 4 months and daylight time for 8 perhaps a different schedule makes sense. Perhaps before Passover (when looking for Chametz you can change the battery) and then again before Succos as part of one of that holiday's rituals? Better yet, if you can afford it, replace your smoke alarms with the new type that have sealed 10-year batteries and are either hard-wired or communicate wirelessly so one sounding will sound all of them.

Do it in memory of the Sassoon family of Brooklyn, New York. Nobody should have to suffer their anguish because they chose to observe a religious ritual. Please don't be offended by a non-observant suggestion. It's just so hard to see so much suffering.

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Hello Joshua and welcome to Mi Yodeya! Your advice to change the batteries regularly is great advice; however it doesn't really address the question that was asked here which is what to do when the alarm starts beeping and it is already Shabbat. Saving a life is probably not a sufficient reason to permit changing the batteries on Shabbat since the risk of a fire happening on any given night are so low. On the other hand, your advice to leave the alarm on and just deal with the chirping is relevant. – Daniel Mar 23 at 13:11
I've upvoted this post because it's core point - that it's necessary to live with the nuisance as a matter of safety - is on-point and well-taken. As @Daniel points out, the next suggestion - that replacing the batteries on Shabbat ought to be permitted - is likely halachically problematic. – Isaac Moses Mar 23 at 13:26
I think that the idea of making smoke alarm checks part of Passover cleaning and Sukka building is a great one. – Isaac Moses Mar 23 at 13:29
I'm sorry. I really didn't want to imply any halachic message when I mentioned replacing the batteries anyway. I don't know halacha, I just saw and heard the anguish at yesterday's funeral. I just think that avoiding this kind of terrible tragedy has to be a priority and that it's never OK to disable a smoke alarm. If it's important to you to observe Shabbat then it's probably best to listen to the chirping and let that remind you not to let it happen again. I certainly meant no offense. – Joshua Dubnick Mar 23 at 17:51
@Daniel Since the OP mentioned that the chirping is disturbing, leaving it alone might present an oneg Shabbos problem. Of course, any significant risk to life would trump all other concerns. But, as you mentioned, the risk from muffling or moving a smoke detector for one night/day is likely to be exceptionally small (though this risk may vary based on factors such as the number of functioning smoke detectors in the residence and the presence and nature of any fire risks and hazards there). – Fred Mar 23 at 22:55

Here's what you do:

You get a clean trash can or bucket large enough to fit over the smoke detector. Line the bottom of it (and sides if possible) with cloth/blankets whatever (but not so much that the cloth touches the detector and possibly presses the button).

Then scavenge the house for barrels, boxes, laundry baskets, whatever, and some books. Next have someone hold the bucket over the detector and build a huge stack of those items under the bucket - use books for those last few inches to press the bucket tightly against the ceiling. Making it tight seals in the sound, and also prevents the tower from tipping.

Pro tip: Without the cloth, this also works for lights that were turned on by mistake - but make sure it's either a florescent bulb (which don't get very hot), or use a very large bucket so the bucket doesn't get too hot. (I would wait 20 minutes, then feel the bucket to make sure it's OK.)

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That sounds like a fair but of work, and may cause one to sweat, no? – Zachariah Jun 21 '13 at 13:15
@NewAlexandria Why does sweat matter? – Ariel Jun 26 '13 at 1:56
sweating is a measure that the action being done is work. Exceptions would be cases like walking to synagogue in a hot climate area, or enjoying marital relations. – Zachariah Jun 28 '13 at 8:02
@NewAlexandria Sweating has nothing to do with work. Nothing. Whoever told you that was completely wrong. You can ask that as a question if you like, but be prepared for answers like "Where in the world did you hear that?", and "Why do you think sweating has anything to do with work?". Work has to do with certain creative actions. It's not the amount of work that matter, it's the creation that matters. – Ariel Jul 17 '13 at 8:12
Ariel and @Zachariah (New Alexandria?) -- see, which is a relevant question (I think) – Shokhet Dec 17 '14 at 2:01

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