Intro: Replacing the Battery on a Hard-To-Reach Smoke Detector the TheoryLabs Way.
WARNING: We are not smart people, and do not recommend this as a first choice of action, however we submit this instructable based on its resolute and violent effectiveness. We highly recommend reading this instructable in its entirety BEFORE deciding on whether or not it's for you. Seriously.
After three days of the sound of a mysterious and continual beeping sound resonating through our cavernous laboratory every 30 seconds. It was decided to do something MUST be done about it. Those closest to point where the sound seemed to be emanating from reported inability to sleep, as well as a slowly building rage.
Step 1: STEP 1: Assess the Problem
The single beep we heard every 30 seconds turned out to be a smoke detector who's battery needed to be changed. In most households, this would not be any more difficult than reaching up with the aid of a small step ladder, removing the unit and replacing the battery. Our ceilings however are 30 feet high, and we have no ladder that height.
Step 2: STEP 2: Find an Alternate Approach
Fortunately, we did have a small bathroom window which was a little over four feet away at about the same height. While out of arm's reach, some simple improvised tools would close the gap. We accepted early on that this would not be delicate work.
Step 3: STEP 3: Select or Fashion Tools
For our purposes, a 2x4 cut to a four foot length and a 2 pound hammer proved to do just the trick. Depending on your distance, a baseball bat, 22 caliber pistol or whaling harpoon might better serve your needs. We discussed the pistol idea, and concluded that discharging firearms indoors would set a dangerous precedent.
Step 4: STEP 4: Purchase Replacement Parts
STOP! We can't stress enough how important it is to purchase your replacement parts BEFORE you proceed. If you're like us the likelihood is that you'll stop after step 7, and while you may have solved the initial problem, you may end up creating a far more dangerous one in the long term. For this instructable, you will need an entirely new smoke detector and battery, as you will see later.
Step 5: STEP 5: Drink Beer and Watch a Movie
While someone goes out to the hardware store, we recommend having a few barley sodas and watching a movie to keep you occupied. We chose Star Wars, Episode 4. While it is not necessary to wear helmets or costumes (as we did, shown here) we find it makes the movie watching experience much more fun.
Step 6: STEP 6: Remove Old Smoke Detector From the Wall
This really is the best part. From your secure distance, use your larger tool (the 2x4 in our case) to repeatedly smash the old detector until it tears loose from the wall and goes crashing to the floor below. While striking it head-on in a jabbing fashion feels more natural, it's the downward blows that really do the trick.
Step 7: STEP 7: Disable the Old Smoke Detector
You will find that smoke detectors are not only made of some pretty sturdy stuff, it's not enough to just remove the battery to stop the godforsaken beeping. There's a capacitor inside which will slowly discharge just enough power to keep the beeping going very possibly until the end of time. This is where your second tool comes into play. Place the target on a clear hard surface, and repeatedly smash it with the two pound hammer until the beeping stops. Don't feel bad if you don't get it on the first stroke. Ours took almost five straight minutes of of non-stop violence until it succumbed. IMPORTANT SAFETY NOTE: It's probably a good idea to wear protective eye-wear, and wash your hands with lots of soap and warm water after this step. We found out later that there is a very small amount of radioactive material called Americum contained in most smoke alarms (it's usually just a tiny disc), and while it's nowhere near a toxic amount, it's better to be safe than sorry. As of this writing, none of the participants involved in our process has developed any new superpowers or worse as a result of our level of exposure.
Step 8: STEP 8: High Fives/Silverbacking
Congratulations! You stopped the beeping! Congratulate your accomplices with whatever customary actions are specific to your region. While a flawlessly executed 4 part handshake may look a little cooler, we went for a full armed high five (jumping optional). Other methods can include head-butting, chest pounding, or urinating on the broken pieces.
Step 9: STEP 9: Drink Beer/watch Movie
You probably won't have to repeat this step, however, our guy got sidetracked on the way home from the hardware store and we had some time to kill.
Step 10: STEP 10: Install Replacement Smoke Detector
Mount the new smoke detector within a more convenient arms reach closest to the point where the old one existed. This will prevent you from having to take such extreme measures in the future. The good news is that tonight you'll be sleeping like a baby.
Step 11: Conclusion
There you have it. Like we said earlier - not for everyone, but it our case, it certainly worked. Remember folks, when logic and science fail you, there's no match for brute force and ignorance.
Instructable by Buck AE Down & MattShaw. Photography by Kevin Rolly
TheoryLabs is a live/work space located in the Brewery Arts Complex in Downtown Los Angeles California. For the better part of a decade, TheoryLabs has been the host to a steady stream of ideas and artistic output ranging from Stunning Genius to Appalling Stupidity.