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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Even The Simple Maintenance - Check & Replace Smoke Detector Batteries!

    My RV came with an adorable smoke detector. Like my motorhome, it's a 3/4 scale version of a full size detector. I test it regularly, so I know it's still working. Not just by pressing the TEST button, but by blowing out a match a few feet away and making sure it triggers the alarm. Usually, it's very easy to replace a battery in a smoke detector. Some of them can be a bit fiddly to get the old one out....but most of the time it's simple. Why not try and see if you can get it done yourself? An ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound (or MANY dollars!) of cure.

The 9V Battery Compartment
First, you have to remove the detector from its mounting. On mine, I just had to grasp the detector like I was removing a jar lid and gently turn it slightly counter-clockwise. You can feel the detector release from its ceiling mount with a "click." Once removed, flip it over. On some, you will just see the battery in a small compartment. On others there will be a battery tray with a lid that either has a screw holding it on or a small plastic lever that you push to one side and pull up the cover. Most detectors I have seen use a 9 Volt battery. That's the sort of rectangular one with two snap-on contacts on one side. There are MANY different kinds to choose from including some VERY expensive ones allegedly designed just for smoke detectors. I just use a plain old, good quality, alkaline one from a major manufacturer. So far, I haven't ever had a failure. Besides, the manufacturer's manual told me to use them!

Be Careful Of The Thin Wires, They Are Easily Damaged.
Once you manage to remove the old battery, take a look at the innards of the detector. Everything look OK? Have any water leaks gotten inside the unit? If so, I would replace it. You never know what water and electronics mixing together will do. Most of the time it will cause a failure. With a safety device, it's not worth taking any chances. Before installing the new battery, make sure the contacts are clean and the wires aren't frayed or have bare spots rubbed through the insulation. If it looks good and has been working it's probably OK. Insert the new battery and route the wires so they don't get pinched when you replace the battery cover and reinstall the detector in its mount. Now test it. You can press and hold the test button first...but I still use a blown out match to be really sure.

Peace of mind is worth a few minutes of easy work. Just go online and do a search for motorhome fires. They can be devastating. Prevention is the key!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"