If You Keep the Old Technique, Remove the Batteries

I hate to scare you, but every old technology you have can be a ticking time bomb.

Wow Wow wow. Good! I resold. Calm down. Your house is not going to burn down right this second. But if you have old phones, computers, game consoles, or other technology that you haven’t used in years, you should either get rid of them or remove the batteries from them. Over time, batteries fail and corrode, which can leak hazardous materials that could damage your equipment. (And in some cases, with newer devices, it can actually explode.)

Lithium-ion batteries, which you often find in consumer electronics, including smartphones, laptops, and anything that comes with a charging cable, wear out over time. If you don’t use them, or at least don’t charge them, the batteries will eventually lose their ability to hold a charge and your device will actually drain. As HowToGeek points out , their degradation doesn’t end there: Lithium-ion batteries can eventually release flammable gas after failure, causing them to swell or crack. If you charge the battery as soon as it does, chances are it will explode. Older devices, such as the one in the tweet above, often use smaller coin-shaped lithium batteries. They are less likely to explode, but corrode over time and chemicals can leak that can damage the circuits around them and destroy the device. However, leaving unused batteries to rot is not a good idea.

There is no hard and fast rule about how long it takes for a battery to fail and become a potential hazard. Oddly enough, I would say that if the product is over two years old and you can’t remember when you last charged it, then you can jailbreak the device and test it. Most lithium-ion batteries last 2-3 years, even if they are in good condition , so there is at least some risk of failure after the device has crossed this threshold. If you are storing something and don’t plan to use it for a while, remove the battery. Likewise, if you are buying vintage appliances, you should remove or replace the battery immediately.

If you need more specific advice on how to do this, the first and easiest place to search is YouTube. Check and see if there are any instructional videos on how to replace the battery on your specific device. However, you will want to wear gloves and goggles when looking for a potentially leaking battery.

If you can’t open it – it can be tricky with laptops and newer appliances, where the battery should never have been available – you should take it to a repair shop where a professional can look under the hood, so to speak.

Whatever you do, remember: these batteries must not be thrown into the trash . They contain toxic materials and, again, pose a potential fire hazard. If you plan to dispose of one of the batteries, you should take it to an authorized battery recycling center. You can use the Call2Recycle Battery Drop Locator to find it nearby.


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