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All year we’ve been covering the issues that matter most to you—the pandemic, the election, policing, housing, and more—and now our end of year membership campaign is here. Will you support our work to ensure we can bring you the same informative local reporting in 2021?

This week’s question comes from Angela Potter of Takoma Park who wants to know:

“How the hell do you grill ANYTHING in a condo/apartment without the smoke alarm going off? We have a standard smoke alarm system and LOVE pan grilling everything from steak to asparagus. Our alarm has gone off more than a dozen times since we moved in six months ago. It’s a terrible nuisance. Advice?”

You mean advice beyond ripping the battery out of the alarm? Or taking a five iron to the damn thing?

Angela, your question is a pain to answer in a way that’s not already obvious—-and in a way that can actually help you out. I called Kamal Ali, son of Ben’s Chili Bowl founders Ben and Virginia Ali, to get his take on it. After all, on a typical Friday night, the griddle at Ben’s must generate enough smoke and heat to light up Shaw. If anyone could help an indoor pan “griller”——-whose approach is actually closer in spirit to a cook at a griddle than pit-master at an outdoor grill—-I thought Kamal might.

Well, Kamal wasn’t much help. He suggested opening windows and doors in your home to create more ventilation than you can typically get from those often crappy in-home hoods. But I suspect you’ve already thought of that—-or least thought of it after your alarm started sounding like an EMS truck barreling through your kitchen.

So I called Roy Washington, a manager at Strosniders Hardware of Silver Spring, who points out that you can buy in-home alarms that are sensitive to either heat or smoke. He says that all the major brands carry heat-sensitive and smoke-sensitive models and that the packages are clearly marked which are which. Washington suggests figuring out what is your main issue——-heat or smoke——-and then buying the model that would allow you to grill beep-free.

And if that doesn’t help, I have an aluminum bat you can borrow.

To submit a question to Ask Tim, just e-mail me at asktim@washingtoncitypaper.com.