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Old 10-08-2015, 03:38 PM   #1
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Carbon monoxide

CO is, or should be, a serious concern for all RVers and we're experiencing a puzzle. On the road close to a year now about once a week our carbon monoxide alarm goes off and seems to shut off in a minute by opening a window and turning on the Magic Fan. The puzzle is that there's little or no correlation with the alarm and any burning of propane. It occurs when fridge and water heater are on electric. It may be more likely to occur say 30-60 minutes AFTER using both a stove burner and the heater. Any suggestions?

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Old 10-08-2015, 03:44 PM   #2
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My first thought would be to replace the battery. If no change then replace the alarm.

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Old 10-08-2015, 04:13 PM   #3
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CO detectors that you would use in a home or rv aren't instantaneous like smoke detectors. They have an inherrent lag due to the detector design that correlates to CO level.
Generally standard response time for alarm is: 60-240min @ 70ppm; 10-15min @ 150ppm; 4-15 min @ 400ppm. So your alarm may be lagging in it's response to the CO level.
Easiest option mentioned, replace battery if it has one.
Get one that displays the level so you can see what it says, you can get one at HD for about $45,(bought a 10 year battery one yesterday that has display) it won't be one you'll want to use permanently in thectrailer because home models aren't designed for the temp swings in a trailer. After using it for trouble shooting the trailer you can use it in the house.
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Old 10-08-2015, 04:37 PM   #4
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My first thought is to trust your detector until you can prove otherwise.

I was involved in an industrial accident and spent hours gasping for breath on pure oxygen while the Carbon Monoxide SLOWLY worked its way out of my system. Hemoglobin vastly prefers CO to oxygen and it took about 12 hours to be able to breathe normally. If you go out for a few minutes of fresh air after CO exposure, you are not out of the woods. If you were exposed, your red blood cells are compromised and you will be more vulnerable to another exposure.

HiJoeSilver's idea to get another detector with a display is a good one. I would place it so you can view it from outside the trailer. Then, test your propane devices one at a time, waiting long enough to be sure the detector has enough time to absorb the CO and trigger the warning.

If in doubt, seek a professional.

Your life could be at stake here. Please be cautious.

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Old 10-09-2015, 05:18 AM   #5
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Try using the stove fan and see if it still goes off later. We never use the cooktop without the exhaust fan even as noisy as it is unless we have a fantastic fan near the stove turned on. If the detecter still goes off you can eliminate the stove as the culprit.
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Old 10-09-2015, 07:02 AM   #6
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CO Detector

I would second the idea to purchase a second CO detector. In a moho I had one which would trigger seemingly by itself, a second CO detector showed no risk factor.

But, the unfortunate part is this is a "zero defect" issue. Having CO in the air, and not detecting it, results in very poor outcome....
Happy trails and Good Luck
Ms Tommie Fantine Lauer, Greensboro, NC
AIR #31871 K4MTL
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:17 AM   #7
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As it quiets after ventilating, I bet you do have a co problem. My guess is the heater, as the open flame of the stove naturally burns cleaner if getting enough oxygen.
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Old 10-09-2015, 08:34 AM   #8
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also check for farting dogs in the proximity of the detector. My friends dog used to set his off all the time ;-)
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Old 10-09-2015, 09:16 PM   #9
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Only take once to not wake up.

Get a new CO detector... It is not paranoia.
Peace and Blessings..
WBCCI# 30676
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Old 04-11-2018, 04:47 PM   #10
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Carbon Monoxide problem solved

I've experienced CO alarms going off twice in my life, and both times the danger was real. So lesson 1 is to trust your detector.

It turns out that, in both cases, the problem was caused by the very same phenomenon: competing fans.

Situation: You wake up in a warm camper, so you turn on two of your ceiling fans. Then you decide to put on a pot of water to make coffee, and you turn on the fan above the stove.

When you burn propane, you are creating CO. The vent above the stove would normally eliminate those gases, except for one problem: the two ceiling fans are overpowering the stove fan, so, instead of going out the exhaust, those gases are being drawn into the camper!

Most folks will react pretty quickly to the CO alarm by opening doors, windows, etc., and that will save your life. However, you can prevent the problem by 1) turning on your AC instead, if you have that luxury, because it will draw air INTO the camper, which aids your stove exhaust vent, or 2) open your windows and/or a door.

It seems to me that something should be written about this potentially deadly scenario somewhere in the Airstream documentation, but I haven't come across it.

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