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CO Alarm went off ... but why?

JumbleDuck

Well-known member
Joined
8 Aug 2013
Messages
21,898
Location
SW Scotland
This morning, for the first time since I bought it, my CO alarm went off. Suggestions of why welcome. All the possibly pertinent facts I can think of:

* It's a Kidde marine one, good till 2023.

* The top washboard was out at the time

* Nothing was burning on board. I had made toast under the grill half an hour previously with not a peep. The grill flames look no different from usual; blue with very small yellow tips.

* There was no smell of gas around the cooker.

* I had an oil lamp burning for a couple of hours yesterday evening. It had oil in it and I blew it out.

* The batteries were at 12.1v (normal for "low with some current drain") and not to any significant extent - not much PV power at 8 o'clock on an overcast October morning in Scotland.

* The only other boat in the anchorage (Dunagoil Bay) was 100m away, downwind.

* The first time it happened, moving the alarm into fresh air silenced in after ~15 seconds

* I brought it in again and it went off again after another ten minutes. This time it sounded for 5 minutes in the cockpit.

* Neither I nor the crew had any symptoms of CO poisoning.

* Neither I nor the crew had any issues with flatulence

* Alarm self-test works as normal

* It hasn't gone off in the ten hours since

Bearing in mind that nothing had been burning in the boat, which was well ventilated, for half an hour before the alarm went off, I presume it was a false alarm ... but why? Is it just one of these things or should I delve more carefully?
 

penberth3

Well-known member
Joined
9 Jun 2017
Messages
1,433
This morning, for the first time since I bought it, my CO alarm went off. Suggestions of why welcome. All the possibly pertinent facts I can think of:

* It's a Kidde marine one, good till 2023.

* The top washboard was out at the time

* Nothing was burning on board. I had made toast under the grill half an hour previously with not a peep. The grill flames look no different from usual; blue with very small yellow tips.

* There was no smell of gas around the cooker.

* I had an oil lamp burning for a couple of hours yesterday evening. It had oil in it and I blew it out.

* The batteries were at 12.1v (normal for "low with some current drain") and not to any significant extent - not much PV power at 8 o'clock on an overcast October morning in Scotland.

* The only other boat in the anchorage (Dunagoil Bay) was 100m away, downwind.

* The first time it happened, moving the alarm into fresh air silenced in after ~15 seconds

* I brought it in again and it went off again after another ten minutes. This time it sounded for 5 minutes in the cockpit.

* Neither I nor the crew had any symptoms of CO poisoning.

* Neither I nor the crew had any issues with flatulence

* Alarm self-test works as normal

* It hasn't gone off in the ten hours since

Bearing in mind that nothing had been burning in the boat, which was well ventilated, for half an hour before the alarm went off, I presume it was a false alarm ... but why? Is it just one of these things or should I delve more carefully?
Assuming battery is OK, I'd e-mail the makers, there might be a simple answer. They might also like to know if somethings failing before it's time.
 

mickywillis

Active member
Joined
23 Mar 2007
Messages
1,283
Location
Epsom,Surrey
I have a CO monitor in my campervan. Van is parked on driveway about 8ft from garage door.

During lockdown, I started work on my Triumph Stag. Started it up for teh first time in a year or so and left it idling inside the garage.

10 mins later I can hear an alarm going off? Couldn't track it down at first, then realised it was inside the campervan.

The CO alarm had triggered due to the Stag running! Fumes had obviously been drifting out of garage and found way into the van.

They can be very sensitive!!
 

Plum

Well-known member
Joined
6 Jun 2001
Messages
2,300
Location
UK East Coast
I know you said your solar panel was not contributing much but I have had my CO alarm sound due to the gasses given off while charging the batteries. There was no fault with the batteries but I changed the old charger to a modern smart charger and no more alarms for 2 years since.

www.solocoastalsailing.co.uk
 
Last edited:

Ian_Edwards

Well-known member
Joined
9 Feb 2002
Messages
1,439
Location
Aberdeen Scotland
The only time I've had a CO alarm go off was when a battery failed.
There seemed to be some sort of internal short and the battery got very hot and I could smell acid.
I guess that they are sensitive to lots of different gases, hydrogen from a gasing battery?
It doesn't sound likely in your case, but perhaps worth a check of your batteries.
 

JumbleDuck

Well-known member
Joined
8 Aug 2013
Messages
21,898
Location
SW Scotland
Assuming battery is OK, I'd e-mail the makers, there might be a simple answer. They might also like to know if somethings failing before it's time.
Sounds like an idea.

The CO alarm had triggered due to the Stag running! Fumes had obviously been drifting out of garage and found way into the van.

They can be very sensitive!!
Thanks. My engine hadn't run since the previous evening. I did wonder about the other boat at anchor but, as I said. it was well downwind, even though the wind was pretty feeble.

After shave, deodorant, olive oil ?
Three of my least favourite things in the world, alongside cruelty to animals and musical serialism. No, no, no.

I know you you said your solar panel was not contributing much but I have had my CO alarm sound due to the gasses given off while charging the batteries.
The only time I've had a CO alarm go off was when a battery failed.
There seemed to be some sort of internal short and the battery got very hot and I could smell acid.
I guess that they are sensitive to lots of different gases, hydrogen from a gasing battery?
It doesn't sound likely in your case, but perhaps worth a check of your batteries.
I have heard that hydrogen is the most likely gaseous cause of false positives. I shall have a good hard stare at the batteries. They are fairly new and behaving as normal, but ...
 

Alfie168

Well-known member
Joined
28 May 2007
Messages
47,162
Location
Nidderdale
1) If it has replaceable batteries, then replace them and clean the contacts and do a button test which will test the circuitry or......2)chuck it away and install a new one or ...3) get another to run alongside the existing one after battery change on the old one.
 

NormanS

Well-known member
Joined
10 Nov 2008
Messages
7,658
I have a CO monitor in my campervan. Van is parked on driveway about 8ft from garage door.

During lockdown, I started work on my Triumph Stag. Started it up for teh first time in a year or so and left it idling inside the garage.

10 mins later I can hear an alarm going off? Couldn't track it down at first, then realised it was inside the campervan.

The CO alarm had triggered due to the Stag running! Fumes had obviously been drifting out of garage and found way into the van.

They can be very sensitive!!
I have a CO monitor in my campervan. Van is parked on driveway about 8ft from garage door.

During lockdown, I started work on my Triumph Stag. Started it up for teh first time in a year or so and left it idling inside the garage.

10 mins later I can hear an alarm going off? Couldn't track it down at first, then realised it was inside the campervan.

The CO alarm had triggered due to the Stag running! Fumes had obviously been drifting out of garage and found way into the van.

They can be very sensitive!!
Leaving a car idling inside a garage is probably not the most sensible thing that you did on that day. 🙄
 

black mercury

Member
Joined
4 Jun 2013
Messages
341
Location
scotland
I once had a Kidde CO alarm that started going off for no reason. It was one with a digital readout which was indicating 000. I put it down to it degrading over time and becoming oversensitive. I don't believe you can change the batteries, the alarm has a life expectancy of maybe 5 years, so if battery dies it's time for a new one.
It will go off, as allready said, if near or above a charging battery that is gassing slightly nearing its full charge. Or a battery that is faulty and gassing too much.
PS the Kidde alarm was approximately 5 years old when it failed.
 

JumbleDuck

Well-known member
Joined
8 Aug 2013
Messages
21,898
Location
SW Scotland
I once had a Kidde CO alarm that started going off for no reason. It was one with a digital readout which was indicating 000. I put it down to it degrading over time and becoming oversensitive. I don't believe you can change the batteries, the alarm has a life expectancy of maybe 5 years, so if battery dies it's time for a new one.
It will go off, as allready said, if near or above a charging battery that is gassing slightly nearing its full charge. Or a battery that is faulty and gassing too much.
PS the Kidde alarm was approximately 5 years old when it failed.
Thanks. Mine runs on AA alkaline batteries. It's due for replacement - it says - before 2nd August 2013, so perhaps it is just age.

I've had a look at the boat's batteries and there is no sign of anything amiss.
 

black mercury

Member
Joined
4 Jun 2013
Messages
341
Location
scotland
I checked online. They actually become less sensitive as they get older and the chemical degrades and will warn you by chirping when it's about 7 years old. Maybe mine simply went faulty. Maybe yours too.
 

penberth3

Well-known member
Joined
9 Jun 2017
Messages
1,433
Thanks. Mine runs on AA alkaline batteries. It's due for replacement - it says - before 2nd August 2013, so perhaps it is just age.

I've had a look at the boat's batteries and there is no sign of anything amiss.
Do you mean 2023? That's what you said in the first post.
 

coopec

Well-known member
Joined
23 Nov 2013
Messages
3,302
Location
Perth WA
Obviously you are drinking far too much: :rolleyes:

"CO sensors have an internal filter designed to absorb interfering vapors from VOCs such as alcohols. The filter is sufficient to protect the sensing electrode in the CO sensor from low concentrations, but once the filter is saturated, the alcohol will break through the filter, and the sensor will begin to respond".Jul 23, 2020 AND

"
An Irishman's fart allegedly set off the carbon monoxide alarm in one couple's Dublin apartment following a St. Patrick's Day "rake of pints", in 2019. On March 18, Ziz O'Beirne shared in what is now a viral tweet that her "boyfriend set off our Co2 alarm after a fart.”
Mar 18, 2019

What about this?

"Aerosol products can be used to test a smoke alarm. If using this method, be sure to follow the instructions supplied by the manufacturer of the aerosol, and direct the spray so it enters the alarm sensor area. The holes on the cover of the alarm are for the sound to emit. If the spray is aimed directly at this area it will not enter the sensing chamber area. Smoke entry in an alarm is through the opening around the perimeter.

Hold the aerosol can about 2 feet away from the alarm. Make sure the can is parallel to the wall or ceiling, depending on where your smoke alarm is mounted. This will allow the test spray to travel along the wall or ceiling and enter the openings on the perimeter of the alarm".


What other gases can set off a carbon monoxide detector?
Other gases can set off a CO detector
, such as hydrogen (released by charging a some car batteries), and in some cases sewer gases.
 
Last edited:

Spirit (of Glenans)

Well-known member
Joined
28 Mar 2017
Messages
1,443
Location
Me; Nth County Dublin, Boat;Malahide
Obviously you are drinking far too much: :rolleyes:

"CO sensors have an internal filter designed to absorb interfering vapors from VOCs such as alcohols. The filter is sufficient to protect the sensing electrode in the CO sensor from low concentrations, but once the filter is saturated, the alcohol will break through the filter, and the sensor will begin to respond".Jul 23, 2020 AND

"
An Irishman's fart allegedly set off the carbon monoxide alarm in one couple's Dublin apartment following a St. Patrick's Day "rake of pints", in 2019. On March 18, Ziz O'Beirne shared in what is now a viral tweet that her "boyfriend set off our Co2 alarm after a fart.”
Mar 18, 2019
You're Kidding! (See what I did there😁).
 

JumbleDuck

Well-known member
Joined
8 Aug 2013
Messages
21,898
Location
SW Scotland
So were we... about 500m north of Dunagoil, which looked a bit of a carpark that evening! Never seen so many boats in there. Scalpsie was also pretty rammed-full as well.
We were in Scalpsie on 19th September. There were at least six boats in St Ninians's Bay too - I've never seen the west of Bute so busy.

I remember passing a boat anchored north of Dunagoil as we headed south in the morning. We've got to stop meeting like this.
 
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