Smoke detectors are some of the most important safety devices in your home. They detect different types of smoke- both visible and invisible. In the case of fires, these devices alert you to danger that you may not see in time.
In the case of Carbon Monoxide, they help save lives quite actively since CO is an odorless, but poisonous gas.
Disposing of the smoke detectors in your home is quite important as well. Since they’re bulky, complex devices, they need to be disposed of responsibly. You can’t simply toss them in a trash heap after removing them from the ceiling.
Here are a few ways to dispose of different types of smoke detectors.
The Complete Disposal of a Smoke Detector
The first thing you need to do is to remove the batteries of a smoke detector. Make sure that you don’t chuck them right after you’ve removed them from the ceiling. Batteries, especially old ones, contain corrosive substances that shouldn’t be mixed with recyclable materials.
First, unscrew the battery compartment and then remove the batteries safely. You may need to unplug the battery from a cable before you can remove it properly. Do this even if your smoke detector is powered by the mains.
There has to be a battery compartment that contains power storage. Second, make sure that your batteries aren’t completely dead. You can do this easily with a tester kit.
With the batteries taken care of, find an e-waste recycling facility near you. They usually deal with recycling electronics. Your first impulse may be to chuck the smoke detector into the nearest dumpster, but that’s wrong.
Call the e-waste facility and ask them if they can arrange a pick up for the smoke detector. Otherwise, drive or walk to the center yourself. Do this, even if they charge a small fee to recycle the detectors. Paying the fee is worth it.
The final option is to throw away the detector into the trash. If you don’t have any nearby e-waste recycling facilities, then you’re out of options. You can try talking to any environmental groups or societies near your home.
If that doesn’t work, look for recycling bins around your neighborhood. If all else fails, talk to the garbage man when he picks up your trash.
Ionization Smoke Detectors
If you’re disposing of ionization smoke detectors, throwing them in the trash is not an option. This is because they contain radioactive material in trace amounts.
This is usually Americium 241, which ionizes the gas and thus detects smoke. The detectors are perfectly safe while they operate, but the material can leak out when they are disposed of. It’s just the way that they work.
Don’t ever try to take apart an ionization detector yourself for this reason. You may be exposed to the radiation and suffer some small injuries. There’s no mortal danger of course, but it’s better to avoid injury at all costs.
The first thing to do would be to contact the manufacturer. Since they made the detector, they will probably have a program to dispose of it. Look for a label to find the address of the manufacturer. If they have an office nearby, drive or walk to it.
In case they don’t have a nearby office, find out if you can mail the detector to them. However, if you end up without options, there’s always the government alternative.
The government in your country or city or state will have rules to dispose of radioactive substances. You should contact a local government agency that is in charge of dealing with radioactive materials.
The agency will give you the proper guidelines on how to dispose of the detector depending on where you live.
You can find the guidelines of disposal for the UK and the US here.
Disposing of smoke detectors may be hard. However, if you’re concerned about preserving the environment, it’s worth it.
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