Home Improvement Simple Projects

Smoke Detectors

Because our bungalow is a bit older (it was built in 1926) it has lacked safety upgrades, upgrades like smoke detectors. And when we first moved into the house five years ago the safety inspector told us installing them should be a priority. So we went out the weekend we moved in and bought smoke detectors. But we were new home owners with stars in our eyes, nothing in our pockets, and no real tools to speak of. Oh, we owned a hammer, a ratchet set, and a multi-head hand screw driver, but we lacked power, and without anything that could pre-drill a hole in less than seven hours we simply didn’t know what to do. So we put the smoke detectors away in a closet and ignored them.

Um, yes, I said we ignored them. We ignored the sensible advice from our friendly home inspector even though some of our electrical was “creative”, and we ignored them despite the number of years I spent laying awake in bed too terrified to fall asleep because I couldn’t figure out how we would escape our second story window if the house caught on fire and knowing that it was too far to jump and that I wouldn’t be able to climb down a rope, and our beds didn’t fit out the window, and knowing that was going to be my end…even then we put them in the closet.

And then over the next five years power tools were purchased. We renovated the bathroom. I put in a closet. We landscaped (partially) the backyard. And not once in those five years did we consider pulling out the smoke detectors to fix them to the ceiling, until yesterday that is. Yesterday Rachael announced that she had read an article in “Self” magazine and we were putting up the smoke detectors. And at her command we opened the closet, pulled out the smoke detectors, grabbed the drill and a step stool, and got to work. Three minutes later:

We had smoke detectors. The hardest part of the project was getting the detectors out of their plastic packaging. Otherwise it was: drill two holes. Screw in base plate. Put in battery. Twist detector into base plate. Ta-da! Three whole minutes to save lives, is there a better exchange than that?

Granted it may have taken longer if we had ones with wires to connect, but we just went with the battery powered ones. they don’t have the back-up power source but they still “chirp” when the battery gets low to let you know to replace it. Do you know “chirping” detectors. Every 30 seconds or so it will chirp, chirp, chirp, until you replace the battery. My parents have several that are chirping constantly like canaries warning of bad air in the mines, it’s only a matter of time before they stop singing.

The final step of installing them was to test them of course. I tried using one of the bathroom candles under it like they do in the movies–it didn’t work. So I lit a list of things to do on fire. Nothing like seeing your accomplishments go up in smoke! And that did the trick. We were all deaf for the next several minutes, but satisfied that they work.

Five years procrastination and 3 minutes of execution. What’s a project you’ve put off doing? Or what’s one you’ve completed in record time?

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