Smoke Detector Battery Replacement Process


Why am I writing about replacing smoke detector batteries?  It’s all about process improvement. Every six months, we are tormented by our home smoke detectors chirping after we replace the batteries.  As a rule, we know we’re supposed to replace smoke detector batteries at daylight savings time (twice a year). Also, if the smoke detectors start chirping or beeping off and on, we know it’s time to change the batteries.  Six months ago, I decided I was going to put an end to the chirping once and for all.  I planned to document the battery replacement process and find out how to consistently replace the batteries with no chirping.  I created a decision table to help me get it all out on paper.  I then spent a few hours writing test procedures and testing the outcomes.  If you want to drive yourself a little crazy, listen to smoke detectors screaming in your ear for a few hours.  After all was said and done, I had a successful process documented.

You may ask yourself why I didn’t check Yahoo Answers or eHow for the answer to my problem.  Well, I did and they sucked!

I searched on:
Smoke Detector Battery Replacement Process, How to Change the Batteries in Your Smoke Detector
Chirping Smoke Detectors
Stop Chirping Smoke Detectors…

So, if the planets align and there is some poor sucker out there suffering from the same problem, I hope you find this post and it works for you.

Scenario:  We live in a three level home.  Each of the smoke detectors is wired into a single circuit and they all use 9volt batteries.  We are using standard First Alert smoke detectors.  In the past, if we replaced any or all batteries, the smoke detectors would chirp randomly.

How to avoid the annoying smoke detector beeping

  1. Replace the battery and make sure the + and – are facing the correct direction.
  2. One smoke detector at a time, replace the battery, connect the electrical plug, then push the test button.
  3. Let the detector cycle through the screaming load test.
  4. If there is more than one detector, move on to the next.

What was the problem?

The problem I was running into was the hush button.  The detector was so loud, I would push the hush button before it was allowed to run it’s test cycle.  I included the action on my decision table and was able to isolate the problem there.

Just in case, in the event I forgot the process, I saved it in Evernote.  I just replaced all of the batteries and it worked perfectly.  I was so excited, I just had to blog about it.


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Snow Removal From an Agile PM Perspective


This weekend, our house at the lake received about 30 inches of snow.  It was pretty overwhelming.  Our HOA at Lake Linganore did a very good job and I’m going to tell you why.  Two significant snowfalls ago, we waited 2 days before we saw the first snowplow.  We didn’t hear anything out of the HOA.  Days later, the residents got an email from the HOA saying threatening telephone calls and emails  didn’t help and to please refrain from doing it in the future.  They believed they did the best they could with the resources they had.

I thought they could have done better.  I sent a very pleasant email to the HOA thanking them for their efforts.  A few days later, I sent a followup email with a proposal:  At the next snow storm, I recommended the HOA send out emails, informing the residents of the progress being made.  Whenever I don’t like how a product or service was provided to me, I try to offer constructive feedback.  The next storm came, and this time, so did the emails.  There were only a few but they were very clear.  They outlined the priorities of the snow removal.  Main arteries were of highest priority.  The side streets would be tended to when they could.  This time, some residents got stuck before making it to their homes.  They abandoned their vehicles, and unfortunately, a group of vehicles got hit by a snowplow.

Though it took a few days, the HOA came and plowed us out.  Other than those who had damaged vehicles, the tone in the neighborhood was very much improved.  We understood the priorities and respected them.  The communications is what we valued the most.

This weekend, we had an even bigger storm then the last.  This time, the HOA revised their process.  We got emails a day before the snow arrived.  They advised us to get off the roads by a certain time and identified where to park to avoid getting hit by a plow.  We were also provided a list of the highest priorities in order of importance and grouped by need to have and want to have.  Lastly, we received regular emails notifying us of progress or impediments and who could expect to be plowed out next.

Here are a few successes

  • They listened to customer feedback
  • The process was refined, based on user feedback
  • A list of objectives was made and circulated, identifying items of greatest value
  • Regular communications

We received a status report this evening.  In it, we were advised another storm is on its way.  Though the community will be completely plowed by the time it arrives, we were assured the HOA will keep us informed. They added, snow removal operations will be reviewed to see what went right and what when wrong this time around and apply those lessons learned to the next storm.

Did your snow removal go as smoothly this time around?

I would love to hear your comments or stories.