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Practical Advice Beyond Dryer Sheets
Old 02-11-2017, 11:13 AM   #1
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Practical Advice Beyond Dryer Sheets

Another snowy day here in the Great White North, and I'm pondering a couple of big, important social issues that I need to get off my chest.

So I'm passing them off as "practical advice" for the modern age.

1) Smoke detector batteries. Twice a year, when Daylight Savings Time begins or ends, we all face a barrage of well-meaning broadcasters, publishers and other wanna-be helpers claiming it's essential we change all our smoke detector batteries immediately.

After thinking I heard a beep, I checked one of mine today. Now, I wasn't born yesterday, and I'm pretty quick to pick up on marketing hype. So I write the date on any smoke detector battery when I install it. Been doing this for years.

Today's battery checked out well in the "green" on a battery tester. It's been in the detector since February, 2012 and still sounds the alarm when I hit the test button.

That's right. The original battery lasted longer than the recommended life of the detector itself. This is not the first time I've seen this.

I officially give you permission to change your batteries only when they need it. And PLEASE correct anyone you hear repeating this myth. I suspect it was initiated by battery manufacturers.

2) Gas can spouts. After spending some quality time out in 10 degree F temperatures, in the snow and wind, trying to pour fuel from a modern gas can spout, I recalled that I'd run into this issue before.

For some reason no-one can explain, the brain trust that runs our government has forbidden the sale of gas cans with spouts that work, or vents to allow the fuel to flow cleanly. We're required to try to hold the heavy can steady, in just the right spot, while fuel slowly gurgles out at barely more than a trickle, splashing all over the place the whole time.

Amazon to the rescue. They sell a gas water can spout kit, complete with the little vent you install yourself.

Read the reviews. I'm not the only one who is baffled by this regulation, or has found this solution.

Which reminds me. Who decided that we can't be trusted with six gallons of fuel, but 5 gallon cans are fine? I bought a batch of six-gallon cans while they were still legal in Massachusetts (of all places) but banned in other states.

I feel better now. Feel free to add your own "advice".
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Old 02-11-2017, 11:24 AM   #2
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Which is why I'm keeping my ratty old plastic 5 gallon can for gas and an even rattier 1 gallon one for 2 cycle mixture. The spout on the 5 is accordion plastic complete with duct tape on a break....ain't giving it up. The one gallon looks like it's from the sixties.
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Old 02-11-2017, 11:52 AM   #3
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I always wait for the smoke detector to beep to replace the batteries, they last a long time.

I guess I only have old gas cans as mine all have an air vent at the back so the gas will flow out fast.

What I hate, is gas with alcohol in it made from corn. Great for corn farmers, but nobody tells you how that gas ruins old motors, raises the price of corn, which affects feed and meat prices.
Perhaps because gas became cheaper than corn alcohol, we are now paying extra for less energy packed fuel since producers by law have to put alcohol in the gas.
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Old 02-11-2017, 12:08 PM   #4
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I always wait for the smoke detector to beep to replace the batteries, they last a long time.
When I do that they decide that 2:00 AM is a good time to start beeping so I change them annually. 9-volt batteries don't cost much so it's worthwhile to me.

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I guess I only have old gas cans as mine all have an air vent at the back so the gas will flow out fast.
I have several of the old style and I'm hanging on to them too.
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Old 02-11-2017, 12:33 PM   #5
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When I do that they decide that 2:00 AM is a good time to start beeping so I change them annually. 9-volt batteries don't cost much so it's worthwhile to me. ...
Agreed. I also think 2x a year is overkill, and we have a lot of smoke detectors, so a lot of redundancy. So I change them 1x a year.

Gas cans
Quote:
I have several of the old style and I'm hanging on to them too.
I didn't know what OP was talking about. I guess mine is pretty old, plastic, so does not rust out, it has a little flip vent, pours just fine.

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Old 02-11-2017, 12:39 PM   #6
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Gas cans


I didn't know what OP was talking about. I guess mine is pretty old, plastic, so does not rust out, it has a little flip vent, pours just fine.

-ERD50
There have been a few (very few) incidents in which the old-style gas cans can build up a charge of static electricity while fuel is being poured which in turn can create an explosion/fire. So whoever in the government who decides these things decided to make them differently, supposedly to prevent that.

I guess it matters if you're one of the people who got burned, but know of no incidents myself.
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Old 02-11-2017, 01:31 PM   #7
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The smoke detector in the loft of my country home requires a 15-ft ladder to reach (it's 25 ft to the ground floor). I have a 20-ft ladder, except that I often take it back to the city home. One time, we had to cut short the stay when the beep drove us crazy even though we slept in the master bedroom downstairs. We did not have this ladder up there that time.

So, I made the point of replacing it once every 2 years. Thanks for reminding me, as I think the last time was probably more like 3 years ago. The alarm is wired to 115V, so the battery is only for backup and lasts quite a while as there is no drain. It should last even longer, except that we do have frequent power outage up there (as evidenced by us being greeted by the oven clock flashing whenever we come up).

By the way, a battery voltage goes down with temperature. It was just right at the low-voltage alarm threshold, so did not beep during the day but waited until past midnight to wake us up. And once it started to beep, it would not stop until it warmed up again in the morning. ARGHHH!
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Old 02-11-2017, 02:09 PM   #8
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When we got back to our house in MD last spring (05/2016), one of our smoke detectors was beeping intermittently. I changed the battery, and everything was fine. The battery I removed was marked 01/2008 (my writing). Got my money's worth out of that sucker.
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Old 02-11-2017, 02:29 PM   #9
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I buy smoke detectors that wire into 120 VAC and do not have battery backup. I've had enough nights' sleep ruined by smoke detectors with battery backup that I'm willing to shoulder the small additional risk that a house fire kills electric power before a smoke alarm goes off.

BTW: back in the '70s, there was a fire in the house where I grew up (my divorced mom didn't properly extinguish a fire in the fireplace before going to bed). There were 3 fire alarms in the house (all battery-only). Two of them had dead batteries. The third saved the lives of my mom, my two sisters, and me. I'm a believer.
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Old 02-11-2017, 02:38 PM   #10
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My smoke detectors run off AC voltage and still need a battery for backup. They beep without a battery installed!

PS. I have not told the story of my neighbors down the road from me. They were also part-timers like ourselves, and found themselves with a beeping smoke detector one night. Also did not have a tall enough ladder. You know what they did?

They called the fire station, and these nice volunteer firemen came out to help them in the middle of the night! I would never thought of imposing like that. I drove back to my city home to fetch the ladder.
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Old 02-11-2017, 03:43 PM   #11
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My smoke detectors run off AC voltage and still need a battery for backup. They beep without a battery installed!

PS. I have not told the story of my neighbors down the road from me. They were also part-timers like ourselves, and found themselves with a beeping smoke detector one night. Also did not have a tall enough ladder. You know what they did?

They called the fire station, and these nice volunteer firemen came out to help them in the middle of the night! I would never thought of imposing like that. I drove back to my city home to fetch the ladder.
Nothing a $50 BB gun couldn't handle in a pinch
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Old 02-11-2017, 04:36 PM   #12
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I did not have my pellet gun, and the 357 would be overkill. Plus, it's too tough to climb up on that steep-pitched roof to patch up the hole afterwards.
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Old 02-11-2017, 04:47 PM   #13
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They now have a lithium battery that will last 10 years in an AC powered smoke detector. https://www.amazon.com/Energizer-Ult...p_ob_title_hpc

I agree that 2X per year is overkill (same as changing oil in a car every 3000 miles), but once a year or every other year is what I would shoot for if using Alkaline or if not AC powered. Using a battery to the point where it beeps, seems akin to driving around on a low tank of gas. Right when you need it, it's out of power. I had a fire in my house once while sleeping. You'll find a new respect for fire when that happens. Very scary - especially with our child being a baby at the time. Life versus the cost of a battery is a easy choice.

The bad thing is that virtually nothing else runs on a 9v. If it did, it wouldn't be so bad swapping out a battery in the smoke detector and then using it in something else.

As for gas cans - the worst. If you have an old can hold on to it. The new ones are terrible. Their goal was to prevent spillage but they are so poorly designed, I spilled more gas with them than in the past. I did finally find a good one though. They are expensive but they work well. They are called No-Spill and while no where as good as an old vented can, they are the best currently on the market IMHO. https://www.amazon.com/No-Spill-1405...words=gas+cans
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Old 02-11-2017, 04:53 PM   #14
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PS. I have not told the story of my neighbors down the road from me. They were also part-timers like ourselves, and found themselves with a beeping smoke detector one night. Also did not have a tall enough ladder. You know what they did?

They called the fire station, and these nice volunteer firemen came out to help them in the middle of the night! I would never thought of imposing like that. I drove back to my city home to fetch the ladder.
I bet the firemen would rather do that than to have the owner disable the detector. I've seen them on the news very upset about how someone died because they did not have or disconnected the smoke detector.
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Old 02-11-2017, 05:09 PM   #15
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...The bad thing is that virtually nothing else runs on a 9v. If it did, it wouldn't be so bad swapping out a battery in the smoke detector and then using it in something else...
Ah! I have several DVMs, and only one of them has the auto-off feature. I cannot recall how many times I cursed myself for leaving one on, and drained the expensive 9V battery. So, I have insatiable needs for these 9V, which the half-used batteries from smoke alarms cannot satisfy.

I now buy only the cheapest 9V batteries from dollar stores for the DVMs, and I buy in bulk.
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Old 02-11-2017, 05:40 PM   #16
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The bad thing is that virtually nothing else runs on a 9v. If it did, it wouldn't be so bad swapping out a battery in the smoke detector and then using it in something else.
In the old days (60's) 9v batteries ran the most important thing in a kids life. His transistor radio. I lived in Boston then, so I was a Sox fan, not a Cardsfan. Ear plug in, listening to Yaz hit a homer, or George Scott hit a Tater. For a twelve year old, life did not get much better.,
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Old 02-11-2017, 11:11 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
The smoke detector in the loft of my country home requires a 15-ft ladder to reach (it's 25 ft to the ground floor). I have a 20-ft ladder, except that I often take it back to the city home. One time, we had to cut short the stay when the beep drove us crazy even though we slept in the master bedroom downstairs. We did not have this ladder up there that time.

So, I made the point of replacing it once every 2 years. Thanks for reminding me, as I think the last time was probably more like 3 years ago. The alarm is wired to 115V, so the battery is only for backup and lasts quite a while as there is no drain. It should last even longer, except that we do have frequent power outage up there (as evidenced by us being greeted by the oven clock flashing whenever we come up).

By the way, a battery voltage goes down with temperature. It was just right at the low-voltage alarm threshold, so did not beep during the day but waited until past midnight to wake us up. And once it started to beep, it would not stop until it warmed up again in the morning. ARGHHH!
You could have simply turned UP the heat a few degrees for the nights you were there.
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Old 02-12-2017, 04:32 AM   #18
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Ah! I have several DVMs, and only one of them has the auto-off feature. I cannot recall how many times I cursed myself for leaving one on, and drained the expensive 9V battery. So, I have insatiable needs for these 9V, which the half-used batteries from smoke alarms cannot satisfy.

I now buy only the cheapest 9V batteries from dollar stores for the DVMs, and I buy in bulk.
Recently discovered batteries at Dollar TREE, where all is $1. A few different brands of batteries, even. They have more "heavy duty" than alkaline batteries, but you can find them if you root around. Had good luck so far.

BYW, I remember when Alkaline was a player for the Tigers, not a battery type!
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Old 02-12-2017, 05:54 AM   #19
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I have couple gas cans with the new spouts.. you are all right... they stink. But I hardly ever use the spouts... I use those cans mostly for the boat and jet ski (and previously for the snowmobiles) and use a siphon hose like this.... best thing since sliced bread.. no need to try to tip up heavy gas cans.

Depending on the use, I find the siphon hose handier than the old-style spouts the OP posted... but for smaller cans they are fine.

You just put the metal end in the gas can and the other end in what you are trying to gas up... then jiggle the hose back and forth until a steady flow starts... no more gas in the mouth for me!
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Old 02-12-2017, 06:11 AM   #20
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The actual code requirement is to replace batteries "in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions," not necessarily twice a year. Checking one manufacturer's (Kidde) data sheet for their plain-Jane model, it says to replace when the chirp is heard and that a battery "should" last about a year. Check the paperwork that came with your smoke alarm, if you still have it.

The code requires replacement of household smoke alarms every ten years. There are models available now with ten-year lithium batteries, which would be a great choice for those hard to reach places.

Battery-only alarms are supposed to be only for retrofit applications. AC-only used to be permitted in new construction, but was revised a number of years ago to require battery backup. This explains why some see differences in their homes.
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