How Do I Dispose of Old Smoke Detectors?

Smoke detectors are undeniably one of the most important inventions of our time. That’s why it’s become common practice to have several of them all over our houses.

But what are we supposed to do with them once they’ve served their purpose? How can we properly dispose of them? Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about in this article.

Are smoke detectors considered e-waste?

Yes, they are considered e-waste. E-waste consists of any device that is no longer wanted or working that has a battery, plug, or electric cord. Other similar items are old laptops, phones, monitors, air conditioners, and refrigerators.

Can you put smoke detectors in the trash bin?

While some smoke detectors can safely be thrown in the trash, others can’t. Ultimately, whether or not you can throw a smoke detector in the trash depends on its type. Generally, photoelectric detectors are safe to throw in the trash, as long as you remove their batteries first.

However, ionization detectors aren’t. This is because they contain a small amount of a radioactive isotope called Americium 241. And while this material is usually housed inside a metal chamber when you’re using your smoke detector and can’t harm anyone, it can get exposed when dismantled.

That’s why it’s a bad idea to dismantle ionization smoke detectors and throw them in the trash. If everyone in the world did this, we would have a serious problem on our hands, especially since Americium 241 has a half-life of 458 years.

How do you properly dispose of old smoke detectors?

Recycling is the best way to dispose of old smoke detectors, particularly because ionization detectors are more common than photoelectric ones. Their popularity is because they sense smoke more quickly.

How can you recycle smoke detectors?

The best way to recycle them is to send them back to their manufacturers. While some manufacturers don’t take back their old products, the major US ones will.

The US postal service website even has a list of manufacturers and distributors that accept old smoke detectors. The website even includes special instructions to follow when recycling them.

Some popular manufacturers on the list include Kidde and Dion Global. Stores like Best Buy and Home Depot don’t recycle detectors, though.

What else can you do with old smoke detectors?

Apart from recycling them, you can also dispose of old smoke detectors by dropping them off at a hazardous waste collection center. Some of these centers accept them.

How do you know if a smoke detector is going bad?

Usually, they lose their sensitivity after 10 years. So if you’ve had yours for this long, it’s time for a replacement.

Confirm which type of smoke detector you have

Before you try to dispose of your smoke detector, figure out if it’s a photoelectric or ionization one. The former will have a “P” indicated on its back while the latter will have an “I” instead. Once you’re clear on what type of detector you have, its disposal will be easy.

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