A carbon monoxide detector is an essential part of every household.
But, while the CO detector can be a life-saving device, it doesn’t always go off because it detects carbon monoxide in the air.
But, why is your alarm going off for no apparent reason, what can set it off, and how to turn off your carbon monoxide detector?
Let’s find out.
Carbon monoxide (CO), also known as the silent killer, is a colourless and odourless gas that when inhaled (even in small doses) could lead to poisoning which can cause permanent damage or death.
According to the National Health Service, approximately 60 people in the UK die of carbon monoxide poisoning every year.
A carbon monoxide detector starts beeping when it detects a certain amount of carbon monoxide in the air.
Some of the reasons your carbon monoxide alarm is going off are:
If one of your gas appliances (an oven, furnace, central heating, or water heater) is not working properly it could set off your CO detector.
If you’re running your car or lawn mower for too long in the garage, even with the doors wide open, there is a great chance for carbon monoxide to seep into the house and trigger your alarm.
Charcoal can produce a great amount of carbon monoxide, so you should avoid grilling inside the house or close to an open door.
If there is adequate ventilation in your home or the venting is blocked or clogged by debris, the traces of carbon monoxide could rise to a harmful level and set off your CO alarm.
If your chimney is obstructed, the fumes trapped inside can prompt the carbon monoxide alarm to start beeping.
There are cases where your carbon monoxide detector can go off even if there is no presence of carbon monoxide in the air.
If your detector is installed close to areas with high humidity such as showers, laundry rooms, and saunas it could malfunction.
If your carbon monoxide detector went off for no apparent reason, you should check to see if any dirt is blocking its sensors as that can trigger a false alarm.
If your carbon monoxide alarm went off and then stopped it has probably run its course and it needs to be replaced. If your carbon monoxide detector is beeping intermittently, it usually means that its batteries are running low.
This indicates that the device has detected carbon monoxide in the air. You should find fresh air and call 911 (unless it’s a false alarm).
If your carbon monoxide detector is beeping once every minute, it means that its batteries are running low and need to be replaced.
If the alarm makes 5 chirping sounds every minute that means it has reached the maximum span of its working life.
If your carbon monoxide detector is going off intermittently and you can’t replace the batteries or get a new one right away, you can silence the alarm. To do so, you’ll need to press and hold the test/silence button for 5 seconds.
When carbon monoxide is inhaled, it enters the bloodstream, mixes with haemoglobin, and forms carboxyhaemoglobin. This prevents the red blood cells from carrying oxygen to the cells in the body, which can lead to serious tissue damage or even death.
The most common carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are:
If a person is exposed to high levels of CO it can also lead to loss of consciousness.
If you hear your carbon monoxide alarm going off, you should:
If anyone is experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms, call an ambulance. When emergency responders arrive, ask them to help you find the origin of the leak and when is it safe for you to return to your home.
Installing a carbon monoxide detector at your home could help you escape a potentially life-threatening situation. Although false alarms are possible, it’s never smart to ignore them –make sure to always find out what triggered the carbon monoxide detector to go off and fix the issue as soon as possible.
Carbon Monoxide detectors have electrochemical sensors that can be set off by gases such as isopropyl alcohol, sulphur dioxide, propane, and nitrogen dioxide.
All CO detectors have a ‘test’ button. To make sure the alarm is working, hold the button until you hear two beeps. Release the button, press it again, and hold it until you hear four beeps.
If your carbon monoxide alarm makes a loud, beeping sound, it usually means that it has detected unsafe CO levels. In such cases, the alarm will beep at a regular rate, usually four beeps and then a pause. If your carbon monoxide alarm needs a battery replacement, it will make a chirping sound once every minute.
They typically last 5-7 years but are highly recommended to replace them after their 5th year. You should also check the batteries and test the alarm at least twice.
Carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than the air and usually mixes with warm, rising air.
To silence your carbon monoxide alarm, press and hold the silence/test button for 5 seconds. Keep in mind that you should never turn off the alarm if you’re unsure what causes it to beep.
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