Your RV and home have certain safety devices that are meant to keep you from harm. Whether we are referring to locks, vents, or other household items, they need to be in proper working order to do their job.
Among these safety devices is a carbon monoxide detector. As annoying as the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors can be, they can also be lifesavers.
If your carbon monoxide detector keeps going off, it probably needs some servicing done. It’s also possible that the level of carbon monoxide is actually high and you need to fix a problem in your RV. Either way, we will discuss in detail what to do when your carbon monoxide detector is chirping at you.
Is your Carbon Monoxide Detect actually detecting carbon monoxide?
Have you lived with smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors your whole life? Many people who have used them on a regular basis (and you should!) are taught to look for signs of a problem like smoke, heat or fire. Otherwise, some take the attitude that the detector might not be functioning properly and find a way to turn it off and remove the annoyance.
Here is a reminder: Just checking to see if the carbon monoxide detector is broken shouldn’t be your first instinct. Carbon monoxide is a odorless, tasteless gas. You can’t smell it or see it. The gas can also lead to serious illness or death.
Take it seriously.
Here is what you’ll want to do to start looking for a leak.
- Check your symptoms: Are you dizzy, confused, or disoriented? If you are, get out of the RV and get help immediately. Is anyone else in your trailer experiencing symptoms? Get them immediate medical help.
- If no one is experiencing symptoms, you can check around your RV a bit to see if you can find a leak. A leak most commonly comes from an appliance.
- Look for dripping or condensation near any windows for any appliances. Also look for sooty or brownish yellow stains on appliances.
- Smell for other exhaust fumes. Your furnace and dryer are most likely to produce smells like this, as well as your oven. Exhaust fumes might come with carbon monoxide leaks.
- Is the flame in your furnace or water heater a different color than normal?
If any of the above are happening, turn off that appliance and find help repairing it while you get out of your RV. You can air it out while you wait for help.
If it really is your carbon monoxide detector freaking out
If you find no problems in your RV and no symptoms of anything – or if your carbon monoxide detector literally has a screen that says “Low Battery,” you can move on to other problems.
Thankfully for most RV owners, having a smoke or carbon monoxide detector start beeping is more commonly a sign that the detector itself is having issues- and not a leak.
Both kinds of detector also tend to start letting out a softer “chirp” for a while. Eventually, if your detector is dying, it might start getting louder and louder, as well as more frequent.
The good news is that the self destructing beep is more welcome than either waking up with symptoms or dying in your sleep due to carbon monoxide poisoning without a detector.
Replace the Batteries
Your detector might be unclear if it’s not the end of it’s working life, or if the batteries are dying. First, change the batteries. Most will have an easy to remove cover on back and come with AA or AAA batteries. Replace them.
If the beeping doesn’t stop, your detector is either saying it’s broken or it’s near the end of it’s life. Either way, you probably want to replace it. Consider using long lasting batteries for the purpose so you don’t have to replace frequently.
Contact the Manufacturer
Sometimes carbon monoxide detectors don’t come with proper instructions, or you don’t have those instructions available. Look up the instructions online or contact the manufacturer to see if they can walk you through what the issue could be. An expert through email, chat, or phone could go a long way in not having to buy another carbon monoxide detector.
A couple tips of maintaining your carbon monoxide detector
Nearly all carbon monoxide detectors actually come with a test button. This is to ensure that the batteries and sensor are working. Pushing the button will allow you to experience the loud chirping your detector will give in a real scenario.
Pushing the button once in a while will also help you not have to deal with the beeping when it does start dying.
Second, in some cases you can hardwire a detector into the electrical. This will keep your detector running constantly as long as the power itself is working. You can ask an electrician about this idea. Hardwiring is a good idea when you are using appliances and have a constant energy source available.
One way to know ahead about issues is to read the manual and know how many beeps translate into danger. Your detector could have multiple beeps for actual danger, one beep for low battery, and two beeps for something else. The timing between beeps matters too. Knowing what your carbon monoxide detector is trying to say can help save problems and panic.
The moments after hearing your carbon monoxide or smoke detector start to beep loudly can be a bit of a panic. The purpose of our tips is to help you discern when you don’t have a problem, and what to do if you are experiencing a leak. Test your carbon monoxide detectors on a regular basis and learn about it’s behavior.
Doing both can lead to a safer, calmer situation. In addition, keep an eye on your appliances that use gas and ensure they are well maintained to avoid starting a carbon monoxide leak. Your safety is top of mind, and the detectors are present to help with that!