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Old 11-24-2014, 09:20 AM   #1
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Question CO Alarm???

During stay in near Beaufort SC CO alarm kept going off. No propane use. rained all day (2-3 inches); very humid, but not warm enough for A/C either. Have a 2012 Sabre 5th wheel. will high humidity set this off if too sensitive? Wife's hair spray has routinely set it off as well. Any chance that we have wore it out prematurely?


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Old 11-24-2014, 11:51 AM   #2
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Mine lasted a little over two years then I couldn't get it to stop. Pulled the fuse, 3 AMP, and replaced it about $55 from Camping World and because I got the same one I didn't have to change bracket. Good Luck
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Old 11-24-2014, 01:19 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by buckeyegal View Post
During stay in near Beaufort SC CO alarm kept going off. No propane use. rained all day (2-3 inches); very humid, but not warm enough for A/C either. Have a 2012 Sabre 5th wheel. will high humidity set this off if too sensitive? Wife's hair spray has routinely set it off as well. Any chance that we have wore it out prematurely?


tvc
any thing can set it off. If your not using propane It just doesn't like what it smells. Put a switch on it to shut it off when not in use. It could be low battery to something outside. I don't think you wore it out. If your running your furnace it can be picking it up in the return air in your basement what ever you have stored down there.
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Old 11-24-2014, 05:29 PM   #4
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ALL of these posts are confusing - are you sure you aren't all talking about the LPG detector (talk about pullling fuses, hair spray etc)? Different beast from the CO detector. LPG detector will beep from low voltage, is wired in permanently via a fuse, and can be set off by hair spray, sewer gas, etc.
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Old 11-24-2014, 05:50 PM   #5
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Your correct techntrek, But I think the key word was when he mentioned propane and hair spay. But that is an assumption on my part which could make me the first 3 letters in assumption.
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Old 11-24-2014, 10:29 PM   #6
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And exactly what do you mean by it keeps going off? Is it a solid tone or is it a periodic chirp? The chirp is indicative of a low battery.
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Old 11-25-2014, 08:50 AM   #7
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Solid tone would be from the LPG detector, periodic chirp from a CO or smoke detector...
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Old 11-25-2014, 05:32 PM   #8
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After my hair spray set off my alarm I started turning on the Fantastic Fan after wards. My alarm is near my bathroom so I aim the spray towards the shower wall while I'm facing the alarm. This allows the over spray to go away from the alarm.
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Old 11-28-2014, 11:00 AM   #9
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Sorry for the confusion. We a combination LP & CO detector close to floor & the steps going to bath & bedroom. unit would sound off whenever my wife sprayed her hair. then it started going off in middle of night with no propane in use (no stove or furnace).
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Old 11-28-2014, 12:38 PM   #10
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Bad setup imho a propane detector should be mounted at the floor and a CO detector should be mounted higher at either ceiling or your nostrils height not lower. CO gas is lighter than air where propane gas is heaver than air. I would replace the bad detector with two one for propane at the floor and one for CO at the ceiling that is the way my fiver came from the factory. just my .02 cents worth.
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Old 11-28-2014, 03:32 PM   #11
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Old 11-28-2014, 04:31 PM   #12
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CO has a vapor density of .97 making it essentially neutral in air. Propane is unquestionably heavier than air. Elevation level of CO detector is much less critical than LPG device. Compare to home units. Some are battery operated for mounting high on walls or on ceiling. Others are 110v. to be plugged into regular outlets. They are almost always 2' or so up from floor level, and never high on walls or on ceiling.
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Old 12-01-2014, 02:04 PM   #13
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CO has a vapor density of .97 making it essentially neutral in air. Propane is unquestionably heavier than air. Elevation level of CO detector is much less critical than LPG device. Compare to home units. Some are battery operated for mounting high on walls or on ceiling. Others are 110v. to be plugged into regular outlets. They are almost always 2' or so up from floor level, and never high on walls or on ceiling.
Agree. CO detectors are also not lifetime devices - they generally fail in 5-10 years of constant monitoring (the more they are exposed to CO, the shorter the life of the detector). A dummy's check of a CO detector - close the garage windows and doors, start a car with a cold engine. If the detector doesn't go off in a few seconds, it's not working. I have had the CO detector in my garage go off starting a cold car with the wind blowing into the garage through the open door, effectively blocking the garage air circulation to the outside. I was very surprised, but found it enlightening.

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Old 12-01-2014, 05:42 PM   #14
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Agree. CO detectors are also not lifetime devices - they generally fail in 5-10 years of constant monitoring (the more they are exposed to CO, the shorter the life of the detector). A dummy's check of a CO detector - close the garage windows and doors, start a car with a cold engine. If the detector doesn't go off in a few seconds, it's not working. I have had the CO detector in my garage go off starting a cold car with the wind blowing into the garage through the open door, effectively blocking the garage air circulation to the outside. I was very surprised, but found it enlightening.

Fred W

Purposely introducing CO into your house is a terrible idea. If in doubt about your detector replace it or call your local fire department on a non-emergency number and ask them if they can assist you. The above suggested test method has no scientific or factual backing and proves nothing other than poor judgment.


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Old 12-01-2014, 07:09 PM   #15
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Purposely introducing CO into your house is a terrible idea. If in doubt about your detector replace it or call your local fire department on a non-emergency number and ask them if they can assist you. The above suggested test method has no scientific or factual backing and proves nothing other than poor judgment.


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Good reading skills has been known to prevent critics from looking foolish. In no way did I promote introducing CO into a house. I suggested the "dummy's way" was to check the CO monitor in the garage. Building codes (in my area) and I make sure there is no ventilation between the house and the garage other than a single, weather-stripped exterior door.

That said, many houses in our area use gas for cooking (I have CO monitors on every floor). I had a house inspector test the air infiltration rates for a reasonable combination of fresh air for the furnace, stove/oven, fire place, and keeping the cold out when we bought the house. I installed a radon mitigation system because that test came in high.

FWIW, I've never seen any agency or entity that will test CO detectors. There is only the self-test on the detector. If I suspect the device is not working or it's over 7 years old, I replace it even if it self-tests OK.

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Old 12-01-2014, 07:17 PM   #16
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Than why not post clearly that it should not be done?
What you posted while not an endorsement, can certainly make a "dummy" think it's a viable why to check.


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Old 12-02-2014, 04:14 PM   #17
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Be a good critic and offer realistic alternatives....

The "dummy" test I suggested will work, and can be safe if performed with forethought and understanding of what you are doing.

The facts about CO and CO alarms are:

- the detector itself has a finite lifespan - typically 5 - 10 years, although there are no guarantees. There are 2 types of detection elements in common use. The test button cannot test the detection element - you need the presence of CO to verify correct operation.

- almost all fossil fuel burning produces some CO - the less complete the combustion process, the more CO instead of CO2 is produced. Colorado requires CO detectors in the residential building codes, since there are fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters stoves, gas dryers, internal combustion engines in attached garages - all of which are sources of CO.

- RVs add a propane fridge and sometimes a generator to the above list as CO sources. Gas burning portable heaters (catalytic or not) are also sources. Burning charcoal is a source of high CO, and if your RV or tent is downwind from the grill, you can build ppm quickly.

- our bodies use a very small concentration of CO to function correctly.

- the concentration of CO needed to cause bodily damage (carbon monoxide poisoning) varies with the time exposure. The shorter the exposure time, the higher the concentration needed to cause problems. 100ppm is considered dangerous. OSHA considers 50ppm averaged over an 8 hour period to be the maximum limit.

- the home detector I had in the garage had both a digital CO concentration readout and an alarm. The alarm sounded at 40ppm. I noticed that starting a car in the garage (with garage door open), running for 30 seconds before backing out (while seat was being adjusted, seatbelts were being put on, etc) would show 10-20ppm on the readout. As I stated in an earlier post, I managed to get the alarm to sound one day when the wind prevented garage air from exhausting out the door when I started the car (40ppm on the readout). A year ago, when the detector (6-8 years old at that point) stopped showing any reading above zero during a car start sequence is when I realized the detector was no longer working.

Based on my experiences and reading:

- any CO detector over 5 years old is questionable and should be replaced if you want reliable CO detection. Especially if you have no way to verify correct detector operation.

- a QUICK test in the garage in the presence of a working CO detector with ppm readout is not necessarily fatal or dangerous. Smart thing to do? Probably not, since you need to get to 40-50ppm to get the alarm to sound when there is no readout (I have not seen an RV detector with a readout).

I am not totally unhappy when somebody burns toast in the kitchen - it verifies the smoke alarms are working without setting the house on fire.

my thoughts and experiences, your choices
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Old 12-02-2014, 04:23 PM   #18
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Be a good critic and offer realistic alternatives....

The "dummy" test I suggested will work, and can be safe if performed with forethought and understanding of what you are doing. But I still don't recommend it.

The facts about CO and CO alarms are:

- the detector itself has a finite lifespan - typically 5-10 years, although there are no guarantees. There are 2 types of detection elements in common use. The test button cannot test the detection element - you need the presence of CO to verify correct operation.

- almost all fossil fuel burning produces some CO - the less complete the combustion process, the more CO instead of CO2 is produced. Colorado requires CO detectors in the residential building codes, since there are fireplaces, furnaces, water heaters stoves, gas dryers, internal combustion engines in attached garages - all of which are sources of CO.

- RVs add a propane fridge and sometimes a generator to the above list as CO sources. Gas burning portable heaters (catalytic or not) are also sources. Burning charcoal is a source of high CO, and if your RV or tent is downwind from the grill, you can build ppm quickly.

- our bodies use a very small concentration of CO to function correctly.

- the concentration of CO needed to cause bodily damage (carbon monoxide poisoning) varies with the time exposure. The shorter the exposure time, the higher the concentration needed to cause problems. 100ppm is considered dangerous. OSHA considers 50ppm averaged over an 8 hour period to be the maximum limit.

- the home detector I had in the garage had both a digital CO concentration readout and an alarm. The alarm sounded at 40ppm. I noticed that starting a car in the garage (with garage door open), running for 30 seconds before backing out (while seat was being adjusted, seatbelts were being put on, etc) would show 10-20ppm on the readout. As I stated in an earlier post, I managed to get the alarm to sound one day when the wind prevented garage air from exhausting out the door when I started the car (40ppm on the readout). A year ago, when the detector (6-8 years old at that point) stopped showing any reading above zero during a car start sequence is when I realized the detector was no longer working.

Based on my experiences and reading:

- any CO detector over 5 years old is questionable and should be replaced if you want reliable CO detection. Especially if you have no way to verify correct detector operation.

- a QUICK test in the garage in the presence of a working CO detector with ppm readout is not necessarily fatal or dangerous. Smart thing to do? Probably not, since you need to get to 40-50ppm to get the alarm to sound when there is no readout (I have not seen an RV detector with a readout).

I am not totally unhappy when somebody burns toast in the kitchen - it verifies the smoke alarms are working without setting the house on fire.

my thoughts and experiences, your choices
Fred W
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:44 AM   #19
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The safe approach would be to burn a chunk of charcoal in a coffee can (outside, don't want to confuse any dummies), wait for it to get to the coal stage, then hold your detector above it (keeping it far enough away that there is only CO and not heat).
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:48 AM   #20
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Ok. Lets talk facts.

Subject 1- Kia
Subject 2- Silverado 1500 (gas powered)
Subject 3- F 350 (diesel powered)

All will produce varied emissions based on the amount of fuel burned and how the fuel is burned. Other variables will include temperature of the atmosphere, motor, fuel blend and how well maintained the vehicle is.
So, we have no way of knowing how much CO is being produced.

PPM (parts per million)
Established off of percentage of a product in atmosphere, directly connected to the volume of the test area.
12 ft x 20 ft , 20 ft x 20 ft, 40 ft x 40 ft?
What is the volume of the area being sample, or more plainly how much CO will it take to fill the area before you get a reading? You must determine the volume, we can eliminate it if you like and just use a reading of the immediate area, but that is not really how things work. Concentration is higher in the area of production and lower in remote areas, that is why you don't put a detector with in a few feet of a heater flue.
We now have two variables and no control.
We do not know the starting point.
What other factors contribute to potential readings. Do you know if butane, heptane, pentane or gasoline may falsely activate your alarm? You do realize there is such a thing as a false alarm right? You know it is fairly common for hairspray to trigger a false alarm? Just think of what any homeowner may have stored in their garage.

When is the alarm set to trigger?
Most alarms use what is called a TWA (time weighted average). The alarm may not trigger at 50ppm for over an hour and be well with in spec. But, your "dummy test" with your own words "If the detector doesn't go off in a few seconds, it's not working." This is not factual, as a matter of fact it is no where near true.
What happened with your incidental experiment was most likely a peak reading due to a spike in CO and your digital display didn't keep up with what the actual reading was. This in the industry is referred to as reaction time. Hence you were exposed to more CO than you think you were. Which by the way as you stated, the more often the sensor is exposed to CO the shorter the life span it also goes for one time doses. If you were to put the sensor right up to a tail pipe you could destroy the sensor or desensitize it enough that it is no longer accurate.
You state with forethought the dummy test will work when there is absolutely nothing to back that claim, I straight up proved with facts that it is completely unreliable and nothing more than an experiment.

There was some good info posted as to the lifespan. That information can be found in the manufacture instructional packet. You know what else is in there? A warning telling you not to test the unit using vehicle exhaust.

You want a viable alternative. Send the unit to get calibrated, you know with a controlled environment and none of the variables.
Or better yet and much cheaper, just go buy a new unit. It's $20 and could save your families life.
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