Here in California, the law requires that all homes have working carbon monoxide detectors. So I headed out to my local Home Depot and picked up a combo fire and CO alarm.
When I got home, I removed the packaging, but I couldn't separate the unit from its base. Assuming it must be defective, I returned it to Home Depot and picked up another one of the same model. This time, I wanted to make sure I could remove the unit from its base before heading home. I opened the package, and I still could not separate the unit from its base. Some Home Depot employees said they had the same problem with the product.
At this point, I read through the manual, and it turned out this particular model had a feature that was supposed to prevent closure of the unit when batteries were not installed. Could this be the problem? I looked the unit over and, through the slots in the base, saw a latch in the battery cavity. When I pushed this button in (as it would be with a battery present), I was able to remove the base.
On further inspection, I realized that the design of this feature actually had the opposite effect as intended. The angle of the knob (attached to the latch) that was used to prevent closing of the unit without batteries actually allowed the base flange to ride over it, locking the unit into the base without batteries.
Once the base and unit were closed, this feature actually prevented opening it again if batteries were not installed.
Now just imagine what would happen if the base were installed in a wall or ceiling before the batteries were placed in the unit, and then you attached the base to the unit. You would end up with a useless alarm, and you wouldn’t be able to remove it without breaking it apart.
This entry was submitted by John Muren and edited by Rob Spiegel.
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