Introduction: Inspection of an Expired Smoke Detector.

Picture of Inspection of an Expired Smoke Detector.

This old smoke detector in my home has become a nuisance by going off on its own.

Step 1: The Dates.

Picture of The Dates.

The service life on these cheap smoke detectors is about 10 years after which it becomes unreliable.

Step 2: The Tool.

Picture of The Tool.

My Handy pen knife came in useful in this job.

Step 3: Popping It Open.

Picture of Popping It Open.

Using the knife blade, I popped the 3 clips holding the cover. Now the guts of the smoke detector is available for inspection.

Step 4: The Internals.

Picture of The Internals.

Here the ionization chamber and piezo speaker can be seen in addition to the circuit board. Such a shame it cannot be refreshed.

Step 5: Salvage.

Picture of Salvage.

The 9v battery clip is perfectly good so I removed this for use in future projects.

Step 6: The End.

Picture of The End.

The rest of the smoke detector is good for garbage now. These detectors contain a very tiny amount of Americium as the radioactive ionization source. Once the ionization chamber is not interfered with, it is perfectly safe to dispose in regular household garbage. Bye-bye old detector!


jmwells (author)2016-08-02

While I understand you thinking the rest can go in the trash, it can not. It is a hazardous waste. The ionization chamber contains a radioactive material. It it should be disposed of properly.

joshcube (author)jmwells2016-08-02

No restriction from the federal level on disposing of smoke detectors under 5 μCi in the US (source: According to the source, modern consumer units are under 1 μCi.

That being said, anyone reading this should not attempt to open the ion chamber. Even though consumer grade detectors have a tiny amount of radioactive material, Americium is a "bone seeker". Meaning if it gets into your system your body tends to metabolize it and deposit it in your bones instead of passing through your urine.

Mjtrinihobby (author)joshcube2016-08-02

Thank you very much!

Mjtrinihobby (author)jmwells2016-08-02

Ha! Since when. There are no requirements on the device or my local municipality for specialized disposal of that detector. If your area has that requirement then say YOUR area.

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Bio: As of April 2017 I have decided to no longer post on instructables. The fact that several of my published works have been removed without ... More »
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