Don't throw away the batteries

I'm a week late on this message but here goes anyhow. We all hear the news that says "When you change the clocks, change the batteries in your smoke detectors". That means they are changed twice a year. I am not going to disagree, even though I only change mine once a year, which is in fall around the time change. Anyhow, having fresh batteries in the detectors is a great idea whether it's once or twice a year. Safety is most important.
On the other hand, there is another issue and that's doing our part to reduce pollution, and betteries do pollute. My point is this. Batteries in smoke detectors do not get any use, unless the detector is beeping all the time from a bad cook, fireplace, or some other smoke. If the beeper never goes off, those batteries are darn near as fresh as the day you bought them. Even if time does drain a small amount from them, if they were newly stocked in the store and put in your detector 6 months ago, they are likely not beyond the expiration date.
THerefore, DO NOT toss them in the trash. Put fresh ones in your detector, but use the old ones on a pocket radio or some other device that needs the square 9volt batteries. In other words, use them up before you toss them. Some people might know this, but I know for fact that others do not. My own elderly mother buys new ones when the time is changed and has me install them. Then she tells me to toss the old ones in the trash. Instead I take home all 4 of them from her 4 detectors, and can probably power my portable weather radio for the next 6 months. Using her detector batteries, and the ones from my own detectors, I never have to buy batteries for my weather radio, and may have a few spares too.
Dont toss em' use em..... Smoke detectors are critical and should get new batteries, but for a pocket radio or other small electronic device, who cares if they dont last long as long as they get used before they enter the landfill.
Alvin
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snipped-for-privacy@notmail.com writes:

Never heard that.
I bought a smoke detector about 5 years ago. About 3 weeks ago it starting beeping and saying the batteries were low. That is when I replaced the 3 AA batteries.
If I started pulling them out every 6 months, I'd be accumulating a bunch of partially discharged batteries.
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True, but you know your smoke detectors will work when needed. That is why the suggestion to use up those batteries in some other gadget that is not going to make the difference of possible life or death in an emergency, like an MP3 player.
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Interesting they actually build in circuitry to indicate when they need changing and the recommendation is to ignore it... :)
Not that changing early is going the wrong direction, but has also always seemed somewhat overkill to me too unless have unit(s) that don't have the warning or have been ignored (hard to do if can hear at all or just yanked them) in the past.
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When the circuitry decides the battery needs replacing at 3:00 AM, you'll probably think it would have been a good idea to replace it last Saturday night. You are also assuming the circuitry works and that it did not sound for three days while you were away on vacation and now it is completely dead but you don't know it. .
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"Edwin Pawlowski" ( snipped-for-privacy@snet.net) writes:

it, so when the fire starts there's no battery in it.
After we first installed smoke detectors, after some time I'm suddenly aware of a chirping. Sporadic enough that I couldn't place it. It took a fair amount of time to realize it was coming from the smoke detector, though I guess then I realized it was a time for a battery change. Enough time had elapsed since the installation that the instructions weren't around, and I wasn't even aware that there was a low battery voltage chirp. It just seemed logical that if it was making odd sounds, it would be smart to change the battery.
I guess it's now common knowledge that the chirping is there to indicate low battery voltage. But it wasn't back then.
Michael
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Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Main thing is always check them with meter to assess the condition. I take used batteries to recycle depot once or twice a year after gathering them up.
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"Edwin Pawlowski" ( snipped-for-privacy@snet.net) writes:

doesn't mean they have to throw out the batteries. Just put them in something that uses a 9v battery, you'll get a good life out of it.
You're right, the idea about changing the batteries with the clock change is to ensure the detector will work when it's needed, not because the batteries will wear down in such a short time.
I tend to do it once a year, which still seems fine. I also mark the batteries with the date when I put them in, so I do have a means of kowning how long they've been in service. So long as people don't forget, one could even do it sequentially, every six months change one of the batteries and so on, but that only works if people are good at remembering, which I imagine is why the fire departments have thought up the "change the battery with the clock"; it's easier to remember, and easier to remind people at those times, than expect them to keep track of the last time they changed their detector battery.
One way of looking at it all is that a smoke detector is a pretty useless thing. It doens't do anything most of the time, and if you're lucky, it will never serve its purpose throughout its life. But people do install smoke detectors just in case a fire really does happen, and they presumably are glad to have that bit of protection.
In that context, changing batteries prematurely isn't so odd either. Because the whole project is spending money just in case you have that fire some time.
If you want to gamble that there never will be a fire, then don't buy smoke detectors and don't buy batteries for them. But so long as you don't want to take that risk, you install the detectors and change the batteries regularly.
MIchael
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Michael Black wrote:

I think those that advocate changing twice a year are taking into account some people buy batteries made in China and sold at the dollar store twelve years after they were manufactured with sub-standard ingredients.
I further suspect that brand-name batteries bought at a high volume retailer (Walmart, Home Depot, etc.) have a shelf-life of five years and in minimal use in a smoke detector of almost that long.
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even the best batteries leak,regardless of their "shelf life".
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Jim Yanik
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HeyBub wrote:

damn things twice a year, and battery refresh was the only excuse they could think of. Note that some early detectors used weird batteries (those multi-dollar ones), and also didn't have low-power alarms that lasted more than an hour or two- so if you were out for the day, you may never know.
Hopefully, they also blow out the dust bunnies while they have it open.
But having ranted all that- no, I don't change mine till they start beeping. But if you do, you should definitely move the old ones into some location where they can spend out the rest of their life usefully, not the trash. My alarm clock seems to want a backup battery every 3 months. It still keeps time during outages, it just won't tell me what that time is.
aem sends...
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writes:

I'd be worried about the batteries LEAKING and corroding the battery contacts. Best to check yearly.
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On Sun, 11 Nov 2007 16:34:57 GMT, Dan Espen

That's the first time I ever heard of a Smoke Det. that uses AA batteries. Every one I ever saw was a 9volt. Actually you would really not have partially discharged batts. They dont discharge in the detector unless the beeper is going off regularly. They just die from age, and you may have to replace the detector if you leave them that long because all batts do eventually corrode and leak. Not to mention that you may be risking your life if the detector is needed. Personally I think twice a year is excessive unless the beeper goes off regularly, but once a year is a good policy. The one good thing is tht they are designed to "chirp" when the batts get weak. But what good does that do if they just keep chirping? You'll probably ask "who lets that happen"......
Well, years ago I worked for a rental company doing repair work for their 80+ rental units. I'd say that one out of three of them would have a detector chirping when I entered the apartment. These were low income units in a "ghetto" area. The tenants often had no clue how to change the battery. Many would complain that "something" keeps making noise (did not even know what the detector was), or if they did know, they just did not care. To them it was the landlords job to fix. Sad but true !!!!
I used to carry a box of batts with me and just change them whether they chirped or not. When I started working for him, I told him it was cheap insurance and was actually required by law to keep them working, not to mention that they really got on my nerves when I was working there. He agreed and bought a whole box of batteries. What I found is that about half of them had the battery removed. We also soon learned that a few tenants would take the battery out as soon as we replaced it. They would use them for personal use. I just passed this on to the landlord who would send them a "scare notice" stating that they could be evicted if they did it again. That helped quite a bit. And then there were the tenants who would destroy the detector to silence it. The landlord would add the replacement cost to their next rent bill. We never wanted to hassle these people, but there had to be some action taken to keep things working and keep them from damaging them. Shortly after, he added a clause in their rental lease about detectors, which made it clear what they were to and not to do with them.
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snipped-for-privacy@notmail.com wrote:

Be aware: Fire departments routinely add to their reports whether the residence had a working smoke detector. This report is made available to insurance companies.
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snipped-for-privacy@notmail.com writes:

Yes, they do. Ionizing smoke detectors, the most common type, work by generating a small current between in the ionized air between two metal plates.
I agree with you that a good battery won't be drained by a smoke detector in six months, but it's erroneous to claim that batteries in smoke detectors don't get drained unless the detector goes off. Even if the detector is never triggered, the battery will eventually discharge, and not because it just wore out, but rather because it was used up, slowly but surely.
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