It may be that first cool autumn night in Vienna when your beeping smoke detector chirps to let you know the battery is almost spent.
Let me guess… it was 2:00 am or something and you had an important work Zoom meeting at 8:00 am? It’s October already? And why is it always when I am sound asleep forcing me out into the hall to figure out which room has the beeping unit?
For me, it was my basement smoke detector this year that decided to chirp at 5:00 am… in September, but that’s close enough.
Replace the entire smoke detector
Instead of replacing the 9 Volt battery this year, you should consider replacing the whole unit. Being plugged in and running all day, year over year can wear out the little circuit board inside.
This is an important home maintenance project that any homeowner can do after reading the easy directions or watching a YouTube how-to video. And, if you need to swap out the electrical connection, just remember to turn the circuit breaker in your panel box before you start touching any wires.
This is an excellent home maintenance project this fall, and is a smart upgrade to your home now and for years to come.
Hard wire with a battery back up
My basement smoke detector was 7 years old, and rather than just replacing another 9 Volt battery I went to Home Depot to see what was available.
I selected the same brand as the old one, but the new smoke detector also has a 10-year battery built-in which will eliminate the annual hassle of replacement and late-night beeping.
And it is easy to calculate that 9 Volt batteries aren’t inexpensive so the 10-year battery literally pays for the new unit.
Zen and the Art of Smoke Detector Replacement
Installation was easy since the plug was the same as the old one. All I needed to do was unscrew the old ceiling plate and attach the new ceiling plate. Clip the plug into the back, then twist the new smoke detector into place. I spent about four minutes reading the directions, and one minute installing it!
Of all homeowner “routine maintenance” projects, this one will help you sleep at night and impress your friends when conversations need changing.
Smoke detectors with hallway lights
When I read about a house fire in Falls Church one morning in the Washington Post, I realized it was on a street where some clients lived. So I drove over to see that it was their townhouse that had been heavily damaged.
I stopped in to find Jeannie going through her fire damaged stuff and learned the story.
Their dumb neighbor had taken the smoldering log out of the fireplace and placed it on his deck. Hours later, the smoldering log set the deck and rear of the house ablaze. Jeannie awoke to see flames out the window!
They made it out of their house in one piece, but they had little time in the dark to get safely out. Luckily their homeowner’s insurance kicked in and provided them with a rental apartment, replacement of their furniture and clothes which would have been costly to replace if their policy wasn’t strong.
Their story is a good argument why you should consider a smoke detector with a light for a hallway or stairs. As you can see in the photo above, this is a 10-year battery-operated unit. Planning ahead will give you a loud smoke detector and instant light to help you escape if ever necessary.
October and Fire Prevention Week
The great Chicago fire was in October 1871, and in 1925 President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first Fire Prevention Week. Most years, your local fire station probably has an open house perfect for parents with young kids.
For me, after Jeannie’s house fire, I started to mail 9-Volt batteries every October to my real estate clients. It was a big project gathering a few hundred batteries and, although they joked with me about it, they always mentioned having my batteries on hand when the chirping began!
Mailing batteries stopped due to USPS restrictions.
This year, I recommend that you replace any smoke detector over seven years old, and install a new one with one that has a 10-year battery. The benefits are obvious in protecting your life and your sleep from those annoying midnight smoke detector chirps.
Safety starts with smart planning. Stay safe!