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How would you change the battery on a 20' ceiling?

somemomsomemom Registered User Posts: 10,512 Senior Member
edited December 2007 in Parent Cafe
Any creative ideas? Our smoke detector is beeping every minute, meaning a new battery is needed, but the ceiling is over 20', the detector is 5-6' in from the wall, and my tallest ladder is 16'. Any ideas how to change it? How to make it stop beeping? yes, it is 3am here and we have been fighting this for two hours with no luck!
Post edited by somemom on

Replies to: How would you change the battery on a 20' ceiling?

  • LIMOMOF2LIMOMOF2 Registered User Posts: 3,698 Senior Member
    My parents use a long pole with a gripper at the end to change the high hat lightbulbs on their very high ceilings - maybe something like that? Good luck - that beeping has to be driving you a crazy.
  • mommusicmommusic Registered User Posts: 8,301 Senior Member
    I'd find a different place for the smoke detector!

    I realize it needs to be at a high point, but maybe consider two detectors at other points, instead of the one at this inaccessible place?

    If you need to call a professional with a 20' ladder to change the stinking battery, it's a bad place for it.
  • mommusicmommusic Registered User Posts: 8,301 Senior Member
    My father (in his 80s) once complained of a cricket in the house. We took a listen and quickly realized the "chirping" was coming from the smoke detector!
  • violadadvioladad Registered User Posts: 6,645 Senior Member
    This is one of the issues with cathedral ceilings that very few people ever consider when building or purchasing a home. You do occasionally have to get up there.

    Don't even consider an extension ladder given the location you've described.

    The choice is a 14 or 16 foot step ladder depending on the true ceiling height. Realize the ladder will be a bit unwieldy if handled by a novice due to their shape and length when closed, and will take a fairly large footprint when opened. You may need to rearrange some furniture to position the ladder unless you're lucky.

    If the unit is not hardwired, I would suggest moving it to a more accessible location when you (or your contractor) changes the battery.

    Good luck.
  • dukie11dukie11 Registered User Posts: 260 Junior Member
    Hire a handyman.
  • simbasimba Registered User Posts: 6,092 Senior Member
    I will second dukie's comments. Too many accidents happen due to ladders.
  • teriwttteriwtt Super Moderator Posts: 12,525 Super Moderator
    another possibility... rent some scaffolding. That's what we did when we were hanging a large king-sized quilt (hand-stitched by my grandmother) along a wall in our 18 ft. foyer.

    But I agree, move the detector to a more accessible spot.

    By the way, were that detector in our house, we'd have a dead pet by now. When our units start to beep from low battery, our miniature schnauzer absolutely freaks. She shakes violently until about ten minutes after the beeping stops. If this went on for hours, I'm sure she'd have a heart attack.
  • ucsd_ucla_daducsd_ucla_dad Registered User Posts: 8,573 Senior Member
    I find a 12 gauge shotgun to work well for quieting the offending alarm.

    At work they use an electric lift to reach high places for changing bulbs, filters, and the like. It's big enough for one person, is designed for indoor use, and you might be able to rent one.

    If you relocate the alarm just make sure you follow best practices for the location of it. You don't want to make it effective for battery-changing yet ineffective for smoke detection.

    Note - I also have very high cathedral ceilings but my smoke detectors are mounted near the top on a wall. This allows one to reach it with a very tall extension ladder. After trying to make do with a 16' ladder I finally went out and bought a 24' (or so) ladder since it was safer to use that than trying to make the 16' ladder stretch. The tall ladder is a pain to deal with though and I really need another person (my W) to help me set it up and take it down. It's also difficult to find a reasonable place to store it but I managed to find a spot.
  • 99cents99cents Registered User Posts: 1,088 Senior Member
    I have a very tall ceiling too but the smoke detector is centrally located in the whole way. I think the builder did put some thinking into the placement of the smoker detector.
  • mom60mom60 Registered User Posts: 7,368 Senior Member
    I feel for you. We have a couple of really high smoke detectors. Also when our house was built they wired them all together so when one goes off they all go off.
    We have gone through several periods where they would go off in the middle of the night. It was impossible to figure out which one was causing the alarm. We would get a long handled broom and sweep at them. Sometimes my husband would get up and get the ladder out and try to disconnect the offending alarm. We were told it was probably spiders. We would then have my son vacuum around them. This would go on for days. The alarms would go off for 2 minutes and then stop. Sometimes for days and then start again. Other times this would go on all night. A couple of times we replaced them all and that worked for a few years. The last time we finally just disconnected them all and replaced them with the old fashioned battery operated. So now if they go off we know which one it is.
    The bad thing was that when they went off so much we would just assume they are malfunctioning. If we had an actual fire I don't know if we would realize it at first. Luckily we have fire sprinklers. Thank goodness they haven't malfunctioned.
  • dmd77dmd77 Registered User Posts: 8,663 Senior Member
    I would go to Home Depot and rent a step ladder of the appropriate size, then marshal three people to hold the ladder while I sent the a nimble and strong person up the ladder to do the job.

    Then I would pull the battery forever and install smoke detectors elsewhere.

    When we built our house, we were very careful to place all the smoke detectors and lights where they could be reached by an 8-foot step ladder--because we had this problem in a previous house.

    My sympathies.
  • UMDADUMDAD Registered User Posts: 1,447 Senior Member
    If you in fact to decide to move the location the battery powered detector, you may want to consider a hard-wired detector. Most local ordinances now require hard-wired detectors in new construction or major modeling jobs.
  • somemomsomemom Registered User Posts: 10,512 Senior Member
    Thank you all for your sympathy and ideas- of course this morning the chirping has stopped and my company tells me they heard it a couple of other nights too.

    The detector is hard wired, so that makes it tough to move, why the idiot did not place it adjacent to the wall I have no clue. I have realized I will never change my fan lightbulbs either.

    I did find rentable ladders in town, but that is 30-45 minutes away and tough to transport something so big without a truck. So, I borrowed a 20' extension ladder from a construction crew down the road-nice guys- put it against the ceiling mostly vertical, not much angle as we did not want it to try to slide down the angle of the ceiling. Yes, I had tears of irrational fear of heights running down my face, but the fury at the night of sleeplessness, and a houseful of company inspired me to rise above my fears :eek: I have successfully disconnected it and ordered a non-battery back up one- I think that is smarter than simply disconnecting it, though I don't relish trying to connect the fitting in 2 weeks when it comes in.

    Why don't architects/electrician's think of this stuff when they build crazy high ceilings?!?!?- just a couple of feet toward the wall and I could have accessed it last night.
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