Smoke detectors

Why is it utterly impossible for any smoke detector manufacturer to make a smoke detector which makes it easy to change the battery? It seems like almost every single one I’ve had to change the battery of has been an epic struggle.

Take last night, for example. Our smoke detector came with the flat – it’s mains-powered, but has a backup battery. When the backup battery starts to run down, it does the same thing as most standard battery-powered smoke detectors: make a random ‘BEEP’ noise every so often, which takes you ages just to work out where it’s coming from.

Anyway, after locating the source of the sound and realising I needed to change the battery:

1. I climbed onto a chair and tried to take off the cover. There was a helpful arrow on the cover and a message telling me I needed to rotate it that way in order to open it. “Great”, I thought, “might be an easy one then”. Oh, no. After attempting to rotate it and having absolutely no joy, I discovered there was a clip (no mention of which was made on the cover) which had to be depressed before trying to unscrew the cover. Depending on the angle you were at, you might not even notice there was a clip.

2. After finally getting the cover off, there was another problem. Obviously (being a mains-powered smoke detector) there were some mains wires running into it. Unfortunately, in order to change the battery, the cunning design of the plastic surrounding the battery compartment meant that you have to disconnect the mains wires in order to change the battery. Doh! Not only that, but there’s a message inside saying that there’s a risk of electrocution if you change it (something like that). not only that, but it wasn’t obvious how to remove the mains power either (without getting a shock, that is).

3. I haven’t done anything about it yet… I’m going to wait until Saturday when I can shut off the electricity of the house, just so I can change the freaking battery!!!!

Why oh WHY is it so difficult to make something which it doesn’t take a genius to figure out? And before you say “maybe you should read the instructions”, there aren’t any… because it’s not our smoke detector, we didn’t have the instructions (in fact, it might even have been installed with the flat, in which case there may not be any instructions).

Ah well, c’est la vie…


3 responses to “Smoke detectors”

  1. You should try changing the battery of a smoke detector above a landing about three foot square, leading onto a spiral staircase, stood on a wheeled chair…

    I’ve done it twice now, and still marvel that I haven’t broken my neck!

    But then, that’s nothing, you should see how I get in and out of my loft!

    I really should buy a step ladder…

  2. Actually Simon, I’d rather not try and change the smoke detector battery in your house! You should definitely get a step ladder — or at least use a non-wheeled chair!!

  3. Lol … How unselfish of you both – risking extreme injury and frustration, all for the purposes of some good, classic physical comedy!

    I’m magining any number of comedy sketches based around someone trying to change the battery in their smoke detector! (This is what they don’t tell you in all the Fire safety ads – just how dangerous it can be changing a Smoke detector battery!!!)

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