It’s easy to forget the smoke detectors that are scattered throughout our homes. Occasionally, they loudly remind us of their existence when they beep periodically, letting us know that it’s time to install a new battery. This is a nuisance for many of us, a minor chore maintaining something that we rarely (hopefully never) have to use. Even with that, we have to periodically maintain it and ensure it has charge through out.

Yet this little chore is an important one, and not only to stop the detector from beeping throughout the night. If you keep good batteries in your smoke detector, your home will be safer from fires in the night. This means not only that you should change the battery whenever it annoys you by loudly chirping, but also change it once a year just to be certain. The dividends you will receive in safety are more than worth a couple of minutes of effort and a nine volt battery.

So how do you go about changing you smoke detector’s battery? First, know that many smoke detectors are primarily powered by the electricity in your home, and only use an internal battery as a backup (fires can, after all, happen during a power outage). These batteries still need to be changed, but the connection to your power grid may add another step.

The battery in a smoke detector is commonly located underneath the unit (that is, on the side that faces the ceiling). To get to it, you’ll need to remove the unit from the ceiling. If your ceilings are at all high, you’ll likely need to grab a chair or stepstool to reach the smoke detector.

Removing the unit from the ceiling is a simple maneuver. Simply grab it with your hand, hold firmly, and twist counterclockwise through about twenty degrees, and it should come loose.

If your smoke detector is connected to your home’s power grid, here you may need to disconnect it. This should be as simple as wiggling the connection out of the socket, or it may be necessary for you to depress a tab to get it free.

Once you have access to the battery compartment, you can gain access to it either by a thumb tab similar to what you’d see on a remote control, or, in some models, you may need to remove a small Philips-head screw to remove the backing.

After that, you can see the old battery. Simply remover it from the attachment, and place the old one in the same spot. Replace the backing (and the screw, if necessary), plug it back into to your home’s electricity, and return the smoke detector to the ceiling, now by twisting it clockwise. Press the button to test it, and if you hear a loud squelch, you’re good to go.

That’s it. You’ve just spent two minutes performing a small, thankless chore, one that has no visible results that you can feel proud of, but you’ve made your home safer, and you won’t have to do it again until next year.

If you would like to get your smoke detectors hardwired into your home’s electrical system, contact your local certified electrician for advice.

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