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How to Turn off Carbon Monoxide Detector?

Written by, Adavelli Muninder

Updated May, 6, 2022

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.

What is Carbon Monoxide?

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.

What Can Set Off a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

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:

  • Malfunctioning of any of the fuel-burning appliances

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.

  • Running vehicle or yard equipment in the attached garage

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 grills

Charcoal can produce a great amount of carbon monoxide, so you should avoid grilling inside the house or close to an open door.

  • Inadequate ventilation

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.

  • Obstructed chimney

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. 

  • Excessive humid areas

If your detector is installed close to areas with high humidity such as showers, laundry rooms, and saunas it could malfunction.

  • The alarm is contaminated by excessive dirt and dust

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.

  •  Low battery or end of the lifespan

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.

What Do Different CO Detector Beeps and Chirps Mean?

4 beeps and a pause

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).

1 beep every minute

If your carbon monoxide detector is beeping once every minute, it means that its batteries are running low and need to be replaced.

5 beeps every minute

If the alarm makes 5 chirping sounds every minute that means it has reached the maximum span of its working life. 

How to Turn off Carbon Monoxide Detector?

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. 

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Tiredness and confusion
  • Stomach pains that are sometimes accompanied by diarrhoea
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing

If a person is exposed to high levels of CO it can also lead to loss of consciousness.

What to Do When a Carbon Monoxide Detector Goes Off?

If you hear your carbon monoxide alarm going off, you should: 

  • Open all the doors and windows.
  • Turn off all of the fuel-burning appliances that could be the potential source of a CO leak.
  • Evacuate the home.

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.

Bottom Line

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.

                           

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

What other gases can set off a carbon monoxide detector?

Carbon Monoxide detectors have electrochemical sensors that can be set off by gases such as isopropyl alcohol, sulphur dioxide, propane, and nitrogen dioxide.

How to test a carbon monoxide alarm?

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.

What does a carbon monoxide alarm sound like?

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.

How long do carbon monoxide alarms last?

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. 

Is CO heavier than air?

Carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than the air and usually mixes with warm, rising air. 

How to turn off a carbon monoxide detector to stop it from beeping?

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.