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Rich&Sylvia

CO/LP detector false alarms

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While I'm not sure that it has anything to do with your problem, which propane detector do you have? Ours is the one from MTI which seems to be most commonly found in RVs. I've considered changing brands.

41Rw2IoM9dL._AA160_.jpg

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Rich,

I'm pretty sure all smoke detectors chirp day and night when they need a new battery, maybe like me, you only hear that irritating chirp at nigh in bed? I was exposed to light to heavy ground weapon fire for the last 20 years of my career and a fungal inner ear infection last year has me considering a hearing aid. My upper frequencies have been gone for decades. I can't hear the alarms on my Casio G-Shock watches and all around me can. Not even held to my ear since just before military retirement.

 

I buy separate CO and gas detectors/alarms. So I can put the CO on a nightstand or on a wall about shoulder to eye level. And the gas detector for propane within six inches or so of the floor.

 

For RVs I make sure they have been tested for confined spaces, which includes testing at extreme hot and cold tempos, which is what RVs require. Most folks don't read the fine print and buy a detector/alarm that is not tested and made for confined spaces. Read the fine print on the package before you buy if buying at Wal-Mart or local. They will specifically state that they are not for use in an RV, and that is not just legalese. For an RV, only buy UL listed for RV use.

 

The CO alarms can be set off by humidity as well. I really prefer the battery operated Atwood for the CO detector as it has a 7 year warranty on the digital one. They expect a ten year life instead of the five years from other brands that need to be replaced every five years. The biggest reason for the Atwood is the LCD display and peak level memory. The LCD readout shows current levels and if it alarmed while you were out it will recall the highest peak reading. That can tell you how serious the CO detected was. I like being able to move a battery operated one around as a sniffer so if it does have a low level alarm I can track it down closer to the source with a little effort.

 

From eBay $49.99. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Atwood-32703-Digital-Carbon-Monoxide-CO-Gas-Alarm-Detector-Camper-RV-Trailer-/141724540876?hash=item20ff70dfcc:g:mCAAAOSwMmBVrt2R&vxp=mtr

 

For those with a hard wired detector whether dual or only propane, here is the Atwood 12v hard wired Propane detector for $34.99 from eBay

http://www.ebay.com/itm/RV-ATWOOD-PROPANE-ALARM-LP-GAS-DETECTOR-12V-LP-36719-/351643805549?hash=item51df9aa76d:g:JxkAAOSwjVVVu4X~&vxp=mtr

 

I want the CO detector working even if the 12v power goes out in my RV for any reason. Why? Because unlike Propane, which has an odorant, Ethyl or Methyl Mercaptin added to it which means we can smell and detect it 99.999999999999999% of the time, CO is odorless and colorless and you don't know it in some cases until it is too late. I just keep up with the dates of purchase and change all batteries annually on the new year in home and camper, and replace propane detectors and non Atwood brands of CO detectors every 5 year regardless, and I guess every 7 with the Atwood.

 

For those with a built in 12 volt wired in old detector this propane can go in the same place if it is near the floor. Then the other can go wherever you choose. If anyone runs a heater that vents the combustion by products inside instead of to the outside, the portable CO detector can be close by on a nightstand. Indoors Propane is heavier than air, so, like a liquid, it pools and flows to the lowest place/s.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Safe travels!

Edited by RV

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While I'm not sure that it has anything to do with your problem, which propane detector do you have? Ours is the one from MTI which seems to be most commonly found in RVs. I've considered changing brands.

41Rw2IoM9dL._AA160_.jpg

Yes, that's the one. I got it in black.

It false alarmed again last night - 68 degrees at about 11:30 pm. It detected "CO". I pulled the fuse.

Today, bought a battery operated CO (no LP) detector at Walmart.

I will temporary mount the new CO detector next to the "defective" detector so that I have two CO detectors running at the same time.

We'll see what happens. . .

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My opinion is that you are going in the right direction. I have come to a point that I do not use the two detector/one package products at all for several reasons. I keep a CO detector in my home base located in the living area and a second one in the bedroom, both of them are the 9v battery type. I also have a propane detector mounted behind the propane heater in our living-room that is plugged into 120v-ac and has a 9v battery backup.

 

In my RV we have the single sensor type of propane detector and I plan to take the one from the house out to use as a test system, just to insure that I don't have something legitimately triggering the present one. When the propane bottle to the RV has been turned off for a long period but the alarm goes off, I feel pretty comfortable that the problem is not caused by propane, but haven't yet figured out what it is. Maybe we will both get lucky?

 

Some time back I started a thread on this same subject and several folks informed me that it has to be propane. Somehow I doubt that as the last time it alarmed, there wasn't even a propane bottle attached to the RV. :wacko:

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Final conclusion: It's defective and I'm returning it for an exchange.

The last two times it produced a false alarm even sooner than the previous times after resetting it.

 

Meanwhile, I purchased a standalone battery operated CO detector and placed it right next to the camper's CO/LP detector.

The standalone did not alarm when the Safe-T-Alert went off.

 

Wish me luck on the exchange.

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The exchange went well. I spoke with customer service and they blamed the open windows on the alarm going off!

I didn't argue.

 

Ultimately, all three (including the original factory oem detector) produced false CO alarms.

Even the AA battery standalone detector purchased at Walmart alarmed after a few days.

 

I took the standalone detector out of the camper and into the house (where we do not leave windows open) and the detector was fine. No false alarms.

 

We left the Phoenix area on April 8th. I kept the standalone CO detector mounted in the sleeping area. No false alarms during the trip north.

I reattached power to the MTI Co/Lp detector two days ago (as of this posting) and have not had anymore false alarms.

 

Final conclusion:

Environmental pollen or dust causes the CO detectors to false alarm.

 

(I lean toward the pollen activation because we were having intense spring pollen at the time.)

 

 

 

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Rich et al. I have been using the RV Atwood CO I referenced above from an eBay seller. Great fast service. and the Atwood is more compact than I expected and looks great. I mounted it behind the bedroom door when open door at eye level I in my home for about a month now and it works great as the peak reading memory works and no false alarms yet thank goodness.

 

I used the old round one with the same new fuel cell technology for the sensor, when we were fulltiming. This one is great quality too. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Atwood-32703-Digital-Carbon-Monoxide-CO-Gas-Alarm-Detector-Camper-RV-Trailer-/141724540876?hash=item20ff70dfcc:g:mCAAAOSwMmBVrt2R&vxp=mtr

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This is a bit of an old thread, but is the first hit I got on the subject of propane detector false alarms.  I have a Lance 1050S truck camper, with the batteries in a compartment inside the cabin.  The propane detector is mounted on the wall of that compartment.  The batteries are each in plastic boxes vented to the outside.  Under certain wind conditions (wind from the front, rear door open), hydrogen gas from the charging batteries is forced back into the compartment via various leaks in the plastic battery boxes (mainly where the wires exit), and into the rear of the propane detector, causing it to alarm.  I verified all this with an Amprobe flammable gas sniffer which I used to search for the "leak" causing my alarm to go off.  The largest reading I got was directly in front of the propane alarm, till I opened the battery compartment and checked where the wires exited the plastic boxes--that gave an even bigger indication.  So add "charging batteries" to possible causes of false propane alarms--it was definitely my problem.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums, Bruce!

7 minutes ago, Bruce D H said:

So add "charging batteries" to possible causes of false propane alarms--it was definitely my problem.

Probably not a widespread issue but most definitely possible. The propane detector actually detects hydrocarbons which are found in most common combustible gasses. 

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My CO/propane detector has been going off when the battery goes low, so I replaced the battery which was totally dead, after three years.  After I replaced it, the CO detector kept going off, which seems like it's running the new battery down.  I've been checking the battery strength after I put it in and it keeps losing strength.  Could the CO detector be running down the new battery.  The RV is not in use right now, so I'm plugging it into my garage outlet so the battery doesn't keep running down and the CO detector goes off. Or could it mean that the CO detector is getting old.  It's only three years old and the green light is on.

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It is unlikely that the CO detector is running your battery down as they draw only a tiny fraction of 1a. A battery should last months. 

You probably have some phantom load. You can verify that by lifting the negative battery cable. The alarm can’t sound if it has no power. 

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I noticed that there is a high voltage battery equalizer charge that occurs every 30 days by the solar panel charge controller.  The extra high voltage triggers the LP detector.  (I'm 90 percent sure - but haven't verified it yet - only recently noticed it.)

(hope that make sense)

 

 

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 Yes CO is very near the same weight as ambient air, it will slowly rise if nothing disturbs still air. Just walking through a room will mix CO into ambient air, causing it to remain at any/all levels. Mine are at 5' from floor, except bedroom is 3' from floor.

Gently exhale directly into a CO detector and see what happens. Yes I know the difference.

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The small amount of hydrogen from a battery will trigger a CO detector. It would be worse when the battery is being overcharged. I have been looking for a detector that doesn't trigger by hydrogen. Also the detectors die from old age, and from use. So I think the hydrogen will shorten the life before the common 5 years.

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2 hours ago, Sehc said:

The small amount of hydrogen from a b attery will trigger a CO detector.

You probably have a combination CO & LP detector as it is the LP side that can be triggered by battery outgassing. Hydrogen does not trip a detector for CO only.

As an additional point, I have replaced the combination detector that came with our RV with one for LP and a separate one for CO which also shows the amount of CO. I did that because most of the combination CO/LP detectors alarm without any indication of which part is alarming. For some reason those have become pretty common in the RV industry and I suspect that it is because they are cheap, rather then working well. 

Edited by Kirk W

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Guys,

The biggest CO alarm tip is replace every five years . . . Period!

I agree and do not buy combination alarms. Smoke alarms are good for ten years and cost nothing, $10 or a few bucks more.

The second biggest RV CO alarm tip is never use one in an RV that is not certified for RV use. They are programmed differently to account for road atmospheres.

Here's what I used: https://www.amazon.com/Atwood-32703-Carbon-Monoxide-Detector/dp/B00HQZ9PVM

It has a read out and you can see the peak readings. I want to know what peak readings are in my air.

Another RV rated CO Alarm that costs much less, but has no LCD is this one: https://www.amazon.com/First-Alert-CO250-Approved-Alarm/dp/B07BHVV5NN/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_263_t_0/141-1614230-7334534?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=K8BZ2VX6FZYSCRY4C7TS

Safe Travels!

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11 minutes ago, RV_ said:

That is what I have now also. And my LP decector is now this one from Amazon.

41xLxGsQUbL._SL500_AC_SS350_.jpg    41DL9MfZWRL._AC_UL320_ML3_.jpg

The LP detector mounts into the same hole as the original combinaation sensor and the CO is now about 6" away from it. 

Edited by Kirk W

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My CO only detector tripped repeatedly when the house battery started outgassing from over charging or whatever.  I don't know if it was hydrogen, but it was the cause.  Opened the outside battery compartment on my trailer and the battery was fuming.  Replaced battery, end of CO detector problem.

Here's a couple of cases indicating the same.  https://community.fireengineering.com/group/routineresponses/forum/topic/show?id=1219672%3ATopic%3A144328

https://hawkenvironmental.com/hydrogen-gas-can-create-false-reading-carbon-monoxide-alarms/

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Chirakawa, as I'm sure you know, even if an alarm is alarming, if it is alarming after five years old, I'd be alarmed at the owner's lack of alarm at the alarming alarm, which is alarming to me!

I'd also advise folks to keep up with their battery water levels and also be aware that charging issues can also point to the battery charger malfunctioning/overcharging. I'll bet you're glad in your case it alarmed you to an alarming battery situation.

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26 minutes ago, RV_ said:

Chirakawa, as I'm sure you know, even if an alarm is alarming, if it is alarming after five years old, I'd be alarmed at the owner's lack of alarm at the alarming alarm, which is alarming to me!

I'd also advise folks to keep up with their battery water levels and also be aware that charging issues can also point to the battery charger malfunctioning/overcharging. I'll bet you're glad in your case it alarmed you to an alarming battery situation.

Yes.  The CO detector was fairly new.  The battery was six years old.  I had smelled a faint odor a couple of times.  It didn't really smell like propane and my LP detector was not in alarm, so I assumed it was an odor from outdoors.  I routinely check the water level and had recently filled the battery, may have contributed to it's failure.

Anyway, after I replaced the battery, the CO detector went back to normal.  All is well and I'm glad.

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Glad to hear it, I had a bad battery in my first rig that made a worse rotten egg odor than the odorant in Propane, Ethyl/Methyl Mercaptin. I was a battery replacer rather than maintainer. Overs taught me to check them monthly and keep a gallon of distilled water on hand. I used to use a baster and I think I'm going to get a disposable medical syringe as that would give me perfect control so as to not spill it. I think I'll order these: https://www.amazon.com/ROSENICE-Disposable-Dental-Irrigation-Syringe/dp/B075LDLQRH/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=50cc+irrigating+syringe+without+needle&qid=1568740677&s=hi&sr=8-5

Back to the topic.

Make sure like Kirk and me to only use RV certified CO alarms. I prefer the one for $50-$60.00. The $30.00 one from first alert is fine, but Atwood is an RV appliance manufacturer and knows our systems.

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Back when we were fulltme in the class A which the house batteries under the step, inside of the coach one battery developed a shorted cell and really did the rotten egg out-gas. That RV didn't use the combination CO/LP detectors but had the LP in the stair well and the CO was in the bedroom. The alarm that went off on ours was the LP, although it was also right next to the batteries, even though the battery box was vented out the bottom. I don't know that it would not have triggered the CO as well if allowed to continue, but I pulled off of the road and found the cause in a fairly short period of time and then isolated the defective battery and ventilated the RV. 

2 hours ago, RV_ said:

Make sure like Kirk and me to only use RV certified CO alarms. I prefer the one for $50-$60.00. The $30.00 one from first alert is fine, but Atwood is an RV appliance manufacturer and knows our systems.

I used the one from MTI/SafeT Alert because there is a hole in the paneling that the original OEM combination was mounted in. Safe T Alert is not the same company(and costs more) as First Alert, which is commly found in department and home supply stores. Like RV I'm no fan of the First Alert units for RV use. I strongly suggest the Atwood CO detector because it is not only RV cirtified but it also has the digital display to tell you homw much it is sensing. It is normal for some small amount to be in all air but most alarms will trigger somewhere between 50 & 70 ppm according to what I recently read. Better sensors also consider the length of time a level has existed.The following comes from the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Quote

The health effects of CO depend on the CO concentration and length of exposure, as well as each individual's health condition. CO concentration is measured in parts per million (ppm). Most people will not experience any symptoms from prolonged exposure to CO levels of approximately 1 to 70 ppm but some heart patients might experience an increase in chest pain. As CO levels increase and remain above 70 ppm, symptoms become more noticeable and can include headache, fatigue and nausea. At sustained CO concentrations above 150 to 200 ppm, disorientation, unconsciousness, and death are possible.

 

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22 hours ago, Kirk W said:

You probably have a combination CO & LP detector as it is the LP side that can be triggered by battery outgassing. Hydrogen does not trip a detector for CO only.

Not true. hydrogen will trigger a CO detector. That is what I have, a CO detector, not a propane detector. The hydrogen from a charging battery will trip the CO detector. I did some simple research to understand why my CO detector was in alarm with no source of CO in the van. The battery hydrogen will trigger a CO detector.

I have the exact same CO detector that you have linked at Amazon.

Edited by Sehc
Left out a sentence for clarity.

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