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How To Open a Smoke DetectorDecember 6th, 2022 by
Have you changed the battery in your fire alarm recently? You should replace it once every six months, no matter how often it goes off. However, it opening it up can be confusing if you haven’t done it recently. While most twist off easily, here is what you need to know about how to open a smoke detector. Plus, we cover the basics of opening older models that do not twist open.
How Do You Open a Smoke Detector To Change the Battery?
For the most part, the only time you need to open your smoke alarm is to change the battery. Most use a 9V battery that is easy to remove once your get it open. Here are some steps you can follow to open a smoke detector:
- Almost all fire alarms are standardized these days, making opening them very easy. Gently grab the unit and twist it counter-clockwise off of the base unit attached to the ceiling.
- Flip it over to find the battery compartment. While some still have a battery cover or door, the battery is visible in most models these days.
- Remove the cover and disconnect the battery. Some units may have a tab or lever that you need to push or pull in order to release the battery. Be sure to gently lift the battery out of the compartment, taking care not to damage the battery or the device.
- Next, clean the outside with a soft, dry cloth. Gently wipe down the detector to remove dust buildup, paying close attention to the vents along the top. Be sure not to use any liquids or harsh cleaning agents, as they can damage the sensor and ruin the unit.
- Once it is clean, install a new 9-volt battery. If necessary, close the battery compartment cover.
- Hold the test button until the alarm sounds. If it does not go off or the sound is weak or inconsistent, replace the battery again and repeat the test. If it still does not work properly, replace the entire unit.
- Finally, replace the detector. Press it gently into the base and then twist it until it locks in place.
It’s important to be cautious when opening a smoke detector. Be sure to handle the device gently and use caution when replacing the battery or cleaning the device.
Also, you should test each unit once a month and change the battery once every six months. Remember to check each unit in your home to warn you in case there is a fire.
How Do You Change the Batter on Older Smoke Alarms and Detectors?
While most devices sold over the last 25 years easily twist off their base, some older smoke detection units work differently. However, getting to the battery compartment can be tricky, depending on the age and style of your alarm.
Models from that era are usually 5 to 7 inches across and at least 1 inch thick. The top usually has a hinge on one side and a button or latch on the other. Press the button to release the lid to access the battery. Models from the 1980s and early 90s worked similarly, but the entire lid would come off.
Twist-on models were first introduced in the mid-1990s, although there were larger than most modern detectors. Sizes and styles varied widely from brand to brand. Some styles have a button you need to press before you can twist it from the base.
It’s also worth noting that most smoke detectors are only rated for 20 years. If you have an older unit, you should replace it next time you go to change the battery. They are usually inexpensive, costing around $10 each. Some fire departments or community offices will even give you detectors for free.
Ideally, you should have at least one fire alarm on each floor, including near your bedrooms and in the kitchen. However, some building codes require you to install more units.