How to Dismantle a Smoke Detector

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A smoke detector that has become defective must be removed from the wall or ceiling it occupies so that a fully functioning replacement can take its place. The warning sounds made by the detector must also be eliminated. You can achieve both of these goals by dismantling the smoke detector. You will need a few tools -- the same ones that were used to install the smoke detector in the first place. The procedure is straightforward and does not require the assistance of a certified electrician.

Things You'll Need

  • Putty knife
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Phillips jeweler's screwdriver
  • Cover plate
  • Wood screws

Battery-Powered Smoke Detector

  • Insert a putty knife beneath one side of the smoke detector. Work the edge of the putty knife around the smoke detector to loosen the adhesive holding it to the wall or ceiling. Pull the smoke detector off the wall or ceiling.

  • Push in on the tabs on the back of the smoke detector and pull the back off. If screws were used instead, remove the screws with a Phillips screwdriver before pulling the back off.

  • Remove the battery from the inside compartment. If the battery is attached to a battery clip, disconnect the clip from the battery first. If a side compartment opens to the battery compartment instead, remove the battery compartment lid on the side of the smoke detector and pull the battery out from inside.

  • Remove the screws from the circuit board that is inside the smoke detector with a Phillips jeweler's screwdriver. Remove the circuit board from the smoke detector.

  • Dispose of the smoke detector's base, circuit board and back in the trash. Dispose of the smoke detector properly, since there is a radioactive element inside that is used by the sensor. Your local fire department can provide details as to how to properly dispose of the detector.

Electricity-Powered Smoke Detector

  • Trip the circuit breaker in the fuse box to cut off electric power to the room where the smoke detector is located. Plug a lamp into a wall socket in the room to verify that that there is no electricity.

  • Twist the smoke alarm counterclockwise to loosen it from the base that is screwed into the wall or ceiling. Pull the smoke alarm off the base.

  • Press in on the tabs on the connector on the back of the smoke alarm. Pull the connector out of the smoke alarm.

  • Leave the base of the smoke alarm alone if you are going to put a replacement smoke detector in place instead. Otherwise, remove the screws from around the base with a Phillips screwdriver and remove the base. Loosen the screws from the electrical junction box inside the wall or ceiling with a Phillips screwdriver.

  • Unwind the wires that are wrapped around the screws. Pull the connector and the attached wires out from the electrical junction box. Screw a cover plate over the electric junction box with wood screws using a Phillips screwdriver.

  • Push in on the tabs on the back of the smoke detector. Pull the back off with your hands. Remove the battery from the inside compartment. In some cases, the battery compartment will be on the side of the smoke detector and will require sliding off a battery compartment lid first to get to the battery.

  • Unscrew the circuit board from the smoke detector using a Phillips jeweler's screwdriver. Remove the circuit board from the smoke detector.

  • Place the battery away for use at a later time. Return power to the room's electrical line. Dispose of the smoke detector's base, circuit board and back in the trash. Dispose of the smoke detector properly.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you live in a condo or apartment, you may need to ask for permission before dismantling a defective smoke detector.

References

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