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Old 12-15-2014, 12:21 PM   #15
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Oh, and I neglected to answer the original question while climbing on my soap box about overpriced "miracle" heaters.

My WBCCI unit does a fair amount of boondocking, and in Texas what passes for winter is great time for that, but it does occasionally get cool at night. I ALWAYS have a CO detector in the trailer (just like at home) and run the furnace when it's cold. I've also camped with power a couple of times when it was cold enough to warrant using the furnace for tank heating.
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Old 12-15-2014, 01:14 PM   #16
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I would be more worried about who I was sleeping with than the furnace
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Old 12-15-2014, 07:48 PM   #17
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Absolutely not. First, your furnace does not put out carbon monoxide. The only way that happens is if the propane is not burning completely at the flame- yellow flame. That is why there is a gas LP detector in the coach and it is to be replaced about every 7 years. When they start intermittently beeping you know that it is either a low power situation or a failure of the sensor. Mine went bad while at a Rally in Feb a year ago. It was beeping every so often. What we do not need in a trailer is the CO detector as we do not have a gas engine or generator on board like a motorhome. They come with LP/CO detectors as most CO poisonings come from people running their generators while asleep. I use a portable heater for its electric use versus propane not for safety but for the use of electric when I am hooked up and paying for it rather than pay for electric AND propane.
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Old 12-15-2014, 08:46 PM   #18
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As previously stated, the furnace can put out carbon monoxide if combustion is incomplete. But, as others have pointed out, the combustion occurs outside the trailer and isolated from the interior unless the heat exchanger has rusted out. I'm going to try to figure out a simple test for leaks in the furnace heat exchanger like using something to puff smoke in the outside compartment while the blower is running and test for smell in the interior.

As for propane, four appliances use propane: stove/oven, refrigerator, furnace, and water heater. Only the stove/oven has the potential to leak propane into the interior in the event of only a leak in the appliance (single failure) because it is the only one that normally has propane in trailer interior. The furnace, refrigerator and water heater are installed in exterior compartments that are supposed to be sealed from the interior. The quality of this sealing job may vary, and years of vibration and/or modifications may reduce its effectiveness.

My trailer had only a smoke alarm and a propane detector. I replaced the smoke alarm when it failed and put a CO detector in the bedroom. I haven't replaced the propane detector even though it is probably original. The manual for it does not call for replacement at any interval, and I test it regularly by leaking a tiny amount of propane from a handheld tank near the detector.

We run the furnace at night and have not had any alerts from the CO detector.

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Old 12-15-2014, 08:59 PM   #19
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You better straighten out the CDC on this who put this foolishness on their website then:

"Every winter when the temperature drops, your furnace can become a silent killer. Gas- and oil-burning furnaces produce carbon monoxide (CO). CO is an invisible, odorless, poison gas that kills hundreds every year and makes thousands more sick."
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:24 PM   #20
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You better straighten out the CDC on this who put this foolishness on their website then:

"Every winter when the temperature drops, your furnace can become a silent killer. Gas- and oil-burning furnaces produce carbon monoxide (CO). CO is an invisible, odorless, poison gas that kills hundreds every year and makes thousands more sick."
Many home furnaces have the fire inside the living space, and carbon monoxide is a problem. It's a completely different situation than an RV furnace that has the fire outside. Apples, meet oranges.
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:31 PM   #21
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Many home furnaces have the fire inside the living space, and carbon monoxide is a problem. It's a completely different situation than an RV furnace that has the fire outside. Apples, meet oranges.
Until the heat exchanger cracks or a gasket fails. There is not a whole lot of difference between and RV furnace and a home furnace. They both are combustion furnaces with some sort of heat exchanger to keep the burning process separate from the interior space.

When you burn just about anything you produce CO. I used to clean stores for a living, we had big propane powered buffers, had to carry a CO detector, if it went off we had to shut down until the air cleared up.

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Old 12-15-2014, 09:38 PM   #22
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Until the heat exchanger cracks or a gasket fails. There is not a whole lot of difference between and RV furnace and a home furnace. They both are combustion furnaces with some sort of heat exchanger to keep the burning process separate from the interior space.
My memory of home furnaces is different than you describe. I clearly remember, right up until I went away to college, we always lived in a home with gas heat, and the furnaces were built into the walls and had the flame right there in the living spaces, separated by only a ceramic grille. I can remember as a kid using the blue flames as a nightlight. If one of those furnaces ever had a pilot light go out, we'd surely have woken up dead one morning…
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:38 PM   #23
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"Every winter when the temperature drops, your furnace can become a silent killer. Gas- and oil-burning furnaces produce carbon monoxide (CO). CO is an invisible, odorless, poison gas that kills hundreds every year and makes thousands more sick."
This is true IF the furnace is contained within a dwelling similar to what Protagonist is saying. The same with the flame on the stove IF a yellow flame is seen. The primary danger in our case is LP leakage and explosions due to build-up and then spark or flame. Imagine getting up after a night of sleep with a gas leak and lighting the stove to make breakfast and boom! Consider too that if a CO detector was a required safety component on a travel trailer without an engine or exhaust, it would be a part of required safety equipment. The LP monitor is required. Each fitting is a potential leak and they are at the water heater, the refrigerator, the stove and the furnace.
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Your RV and Carbon monoxide detectors publication info:

Carbon monoxide can be found in the exhaust of gas engines (such as generators) and also in the exhaust coming from the furnace in your RV that is keeping you toasty warm all night.

The importance of having an RV alarm for this danger has been emphasized in more recent years, but is only now being required in residential homes.

*Note that it is the exhaust.
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:39 PM   #24
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There are four propane devices within the shell of our trailer. Furnace, range, water heater, and range. I know the seals around the fridge compartment are not windproof, I don't know about the water heater and furnace, the range fire is directly inside.

We need CO warnings for these if a failure should occur, as well as ventilation when using the range.
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:48 PM   #25
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My memory of home furnaces is different than you describe. I clearly remember, right up until I went away to college, we always lived in a home with gas heat, and the furnaces were built into the walls and had the flame right there in the living spaces, separated by only a ceramic grille. I can remember as a kid using the blue flames as a nightlight. If one of those furnaces ever had a pilot light go out, we'd surely have woken up dead one morning…
I grew up in Minnesota but later we had two gas wall heaters in our house in San Diego. Yes you could see the flame but the combustion air was pulled in from the house interior and vented through a flue out the roof. A thermocouple sensed when the pilot light when out and a valve shut off the gas supply so we didn't wake up dead.

There are unvented gas space heaters around today needing room ventilation, but I wouldn't use one while sleeping.
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Old 12-15-2014, 09:53 PM   #26
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My memory of home furnaces is different than you describe. I clearly remember, right up until I went away to college, we always lived in a home with gas heat, and the furnaces were built into the walls and had the flame right there in the living spaces, separated by only a ceramic grille. I can remember as a kid using the blue flames as a nightlight. If one of those furnaces ever had a pilot light go out, we'd surely have woken up dead one morning…
Even those produce some CO, I have had a few houses with them, as long as they are burning clean with a blue flame they are fine. I probably should have made it a bit clearer that CO is a by-product of incomplete combustion. Not a winter goes by where someone, somewhere dies of a bad furnace or bad chimney allowing CO to enter the living space on a house.

Don't know why CO detectors aren't required by law on RV's as well. In most if not all states anytime you have a fossil fuel, coal or wood fired heating system or appliance you are required to have a CO detector.

There was a bad set of incidents here in NC recently where an elderly couple and then a younger boy were killed in the same room of a hotel on two different nights due to CO caused by an improperly installed flue for the gas fired pool heater, apparently it was below or adjacent to the room and allowed CO to enter. The installation had not been inspected because it was installed without proper permitting.

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Old 12-15-2014, 09:56 PM   #27
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We need CO warnings for these if a failure should occur, as well as ventilation when using the range.
It is good to be safe; however, with regard to propane, CO comes from the improper burn at flame point. Three of our flames are outside and the exhaust of the furnace is outside as well. The most likely "while sleeping" would be the furnace and fridge and not the stove or water heater. The fridge is sealed out as is the flame point of the furnace. Build up would be minimal outside.
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Old 12-15-2014, 10:10 PM   #28
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My brother-in-law, owner of an SOB, says I should not use the furnace as it runs on propane while we sleep due to possible carbon monoxide leaks. He says to buy a small electric heater. The AS has a propane leak detector but not yet a CO leak detector. Does anyone use a portable electric heater instead of their furnace?
You don't mention the age of your trailer, but if it's over ten years old, a CO detector wouldn't be a bad idea. RV propane furnaces aren't all that elegantly constructed,, and the mild steel heat exchangers are known to rust through from condensation forming during the cool-down cycles, especially in places with cool, damp weather.

There's a lot of dancing around the subject in this thread, but what we need to remember is that safety devices, whether or not required by standards, become indispensable when a series of benign events combine to present a real and present danger: furnace with a dirty burner, with old sealant that doesn't effectively isolate the combustion chamber from the trailer's interior, and then the wind is blowing from the wrong direction, and presto you have a deadly situation. CO detectors are cheap insurance, and remember that their sensors also become contaminated over time and they must be replaced periodically.
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