We found an interesting video on YouTube. This homeowner’s house was destroyed because of a fire started by placing 9 volt batteries together in a box or bag for recycling.
We’ve probably all done this when we changed the batteries in our smoke detectors. These batteries should be replaced at least once per year, but replacing a battery does not mean that the old battery has lost its charge or is weak. Many of the batteries we replace are still fully changed, fully functional and capable of starting a fire if they are shorted out.
The ironic part of the story is the fire was created because the homeowner changed the batteries in his smoke detectors, but was not aware of the dangers related to placing the batteries in a box or bag for recycling or disposal. An inherent problem with 9 volt batteries is that both terminals are on the same side and the wrap used to encase 9 volt batteries is made of metal. The design itself almost assures the shorting of some batteries when tossed into a bag or box.
As the homeowner points out in the video, when recycling or disposing of 9 volt batteries, the terminals should be covered with tape to avoid the possibility of creating a short. Use electrical tape because electrical tape is designed to prevent shorts.
Always pick a annual calendar date when all the batteries in your home’s smoke detectors are changed. We do it on the first of the year. After changing our smoke detector batteries, I check each old battery with a volt meter. If it shows 9 volts or greater (many do), I save them for use in other devices, such as portable radios, outdoor temperature sensors or any other electronic devices requiring these batteries.
Remember the proper recycling methods for 9 volt batteries or you may suffer the same consequences as the homeowner in the video. 9 volt batteries should never be tossed together in a box or bag.