For the past few… I don’t know, too fucking many days, there has been a mysterious beeping in my home.
I remember first hearing it while editing some unreleased content for later 3 Guys listener consumption (still working on it) in the second bedroom that I ridiculously consider a “Studio”. I had a bunch of Audacity projects opened up on my badass-workhorse computer and a few MFC pop-ups on my slowly-dying lapbook. The left side of my headphones was slipped just behind my ear, allowing me to listen for the door, as I was expecting a guest though did not have a definitive time for her arrival. In case you were wondering, the MFC was just there for funsies. No personal performances were planned.
While jotting down some show notes, I heard a strange, somewhat low “Beep”. Kind of more like a “Meep”, but that’s just how I heard it. It sounded kind of familiar, but so many household beeps are so very close, it could have been anything. Fearing the worst, I went to my kitchen. In the case of my home, the worst that could really happen and be attached to such a beep would probably be my oven turned on and left unattended. Of course, it’s pretty unlikely that such a thing would cause any actual damage, but it would heat my place up and could stick me with a pretty crummy bill at the end of the month. Neither of those sounded like fun.
The oven was off and nothing in the kitchen seemed out of sorts. I did a quick look through all of the electronics around my living room and didn’t see anything wrong there, either. Knowing that my fire alarm was an ancient piece of shit and remembering a time when it started chirping for no apparent reason, I wrote off the incident as some shitty-old-alarm fluke.
A few weeks later, I heard the “Meep” again. This time, I was curled up on my couch and nursing a minor head cold. It seemed to come from the general direction of my fire alarm, but not. It was as if the sound originated slightly off-center. Like a performing artist “throwing” his or her voice, but I figured I was just off balance or something.
A few weeks later, I heard it again. This time I was in bed, doing my typical shitty-non-sleep thing that I do almost every night. Having noticed it three times, I knew it could be a fluke. Something was causing this “Meep” and I needed to solve it. Afterall, it could be serious. Of course, it was around 2 AM, so I figured I’d let it wait until morning. Then I heard it again. I couldn’t have been more than an hour later. I was up, now. I started looking.
The “Meep” didn’t manifest again while I searched, and none of the electronics I can across could replicate the sound when manually prompted. It became clear that I wouldn’t be able to solve my audible puzzle that night. Confused and frustrated, I fired up my aging laptop and cruised over to MFC to relieve a bit of tension. After cranking one out, it was back to bed.
I had all but forgotten the sound until that weekend. Now I heard it while playing video games, and it sounded close. Very close.
I checked everything, but nothing seemed to be making the sound. I started Googling for possibilities and eventually it became evident that my fire alarm was probably making the sounds. It was a shitty old model, probably installed when the apartment complex was first converted to condos in the early 1980’s. My place has quite a few electronics, fixtures, and appliances from that era and earlier, most of which perform remarkably well for their age.
It turned out that my fire alarm was an early no-battery model that was installed on condo wiring. All of the buildings units had the same model, with the intention that they would be networked together. If one unit loses total connection, the other units will chirp. Pretty cool, but this was never done in our building, do to complications of the “these things won’t shut up” variety.
I figured out a suitable replacement model and reviewed the steps I would need to perform in order to replace the damned thing myself. It seemed like a pretty sweet deal, but I’ve already had to deal with some so-so junk with toilet upgrades and exhaust fan headaches, so I wanted to be sure. I performed a pretty simple test that – I thought – would help me be certain of the beep’s origins. I went through the condo’s wiring and fuses. I shut off the electricity to each area until I found the fuse that my fire alarm was attached to. I turned all of the other areas on and checked to see if there were any other things as a part of that line. There were – the furnace, the hallway lights, the thermostat, and really nothing else that seemed like it should have any way of beeping or meeping at all. So I cut the power to that line and waited.
No more beeps or meeps or sweeps or peeps. It was done. I turned the power back on and it wasn’t more than a few minutes before the meeps were back. Now happened about every few hours. I went out to a big-box hardware store and picked up the replace fire alarm. I was on my way.
The replacement turned out to be a bit of a hassle, but nothing too hard. The new model was up and running and even had a back-up battery. In retrospect, it was probably pretty bad that I was using the model I had. All was well.
And then I heard it again. “Meep”, this time louder, as if to mock me. I exclaimed aloud, “‘the fuck?” and started searching again. Maybe it is the thermostat. The product page on the companies website said it shouldn’t, but what else could be making that sound?
My thermostat is one of those fancy digital models that detaches from the wall. I really don’t know why it detaches… maybe it can be used remotely? Shit if I know, but I do know that detachable electronics need backup batteries. I pulled it off the wall to find that this was no exception. Two double A’s. Sure. No problem. I have tons of those. Use ’em for my Xbox controllers.
Christ, I’m out. Great.
Back out to the hardware store and back in to my meeping condo. Swap out the old batteries. Now when I pull the thermostat off of the wall, the digital face still displays the current temperature and can still be operated. Pretty cool. That must have been it. Let’s put this thing back on the wall and go about my day.
The damned meeping was becoming some kind of tell-tale heart, meeping at seemingly inconsistent frequencies as if to keep me off my guard, a constant reminder that I seem to have neglected some of the regular maintenance of this home that I feel myself so deserving of, so responsible to maintain, this home. My home. Beeping and meeping at me, mocking me for failing to do the “I’m a responsible adult” shit that I get on friends and family for failing to do. Is it some kind of alarm to change my furnace’s air filter? But I did that last month, ‘the fuck is going on? Is it my oven or microwave, projecting the sound in some strange fashion because of some replacement item I have been blissfully unaware of it needing? Could I have lost some random toy or gadget or doohickey behind something and it is now haunting me? Is it my TV or Xbox preparing to die? Is it actually coming from the hallway closet? The “studio” I don’t use as much as I should? Is it in the fucking walls! Did someone bug my fucking place!?! Dude, I’ve been out of the military for too long for any information I might hold to hold any value or relevance! ‘The fuck is going on in here? Am I just going crazy?
I wasn’t. Going crazy, that is. Several people had since been to my place, each noticing the mysterious meep, each confirming the sound on their own, and each offering great but ultimately useless advice.
I reserved myself to the idea that it was just there. I’d either find it or it would stop, and that’s that. I’d say it was an almost zen-like attitude that I’d developed, but that would have to ignore the occasions that I would notice it while trying to sleep or fondle some trollop that visited my abode, typically followed up by my exclamation of some expletive.
But I kept on doing my thing, and started on some of my less frequent chores – kind of like Spring Cleaning, but instead some other things that I tend to do in the late Fall and early Winter. Full-on cleaning of my fridge, carpet cleaning, de-grossing my toaster oven, etc. When I pulled my couch forward, I saw it.
Some odd box installed by Verizon when I ordered FiOS. It was big, ominous, and plugged into way too many things to just be normal. I knelt down to inspect the monstrosity, but it didn’t take long before I saw the bright red LED, next to it “Backup Battery Offline”. Eureka!
I grasped about the thing, like two virgins groping at each other in the dark, until I found what seemed most like an opening. Inside was one of the biggest “household” batteries I’ve ever seen, only seeing such bricks on truly important things like security systems and pilot-light backups. Clearly, I didn’t have a six-pack of these stuffed into my kitchen junk-drawer. It was time to head back to google.
I found a suitable replacement on Amazon – easily one of the web’s top contributions to the world. I also found out that this battery backup is for the FiOS phone system. The phone system that I don’t have. Why wouldn’t I have a dedicated household phone system, you might ask? Why that’s simple – I don’t live in the 1980s nor on a desolate island. I have a reliable cell phone and nearby access to plenty of other phones and communication devices. So there it is. My mysterious annoyance originated from a backup to a system that I don’t have, never have had, and don’t intend on ever getting. Great. Also – Verizion doesn’t replace those batteries. So that’s $20 down the drain for a replacement battery to backup a system that I don’t have.
tl;dr – it was FiOS phone battery backup for the FiOS phone that I don’t have. Fuckers.
Anyway, it has a temporary silence button (which I have since utilized). I have ordered the replacement, though am not sure when to expect it. I can’t wait to replace it and hopefully not hear from it again. Fuckin’ fuck fuck.