Carbon Monoxide Detector Beeping Every 30 Seconds- How Should You Respond?

Have you ever had your carbon monoxide detector beeping every 30 seconds? How did you solve it? As much as there’s no need to panic, you must not ignore it. Reading this article will enlighten you and steps to take when dealing with a carbon monoxide detector. Stay with me…

Carbon monoxide is a lethal silent gas that kills hundreds of people annually across the U.S. It is colorless, scentless, and tasteless. These characteristics make the gas even more dangerous. 

Thanks to the necessity that led to the invention of carbon monoxide detectors which will alert you through beeping upon detecting unsafe carbon monoxide levels. The sound of a beeping carbon monoxide can sometimes be a relief as it signifies that you can save yourself and your loved ones from potential death. 

However, it can also be petrifying and frustrating if the Carbon Monoxide Detector Beeps Every Thirty Seconds.

While we recommend seeking help from 9-1-1 if your CO detector beeps continuously, a CO alarm that beeps every 30 seconds is not an emergency. It could be a false alarm triggered by something other than carbon monoxide in your house.

Discussed below are some of the reasons why our CO alarm is beeping every 30 seconds:

Carbon Monoxide Detector Beeping Every 30 Seconds
Image of a Carbon Monoxide Detector

Most carbon monoxide detectors are designed to function for seven years. All CO detectors manufactured after August 1, 2009, should have an end-of-life notification to alert the residents of the need to replace them.

If this is the case, the device will beep every 30 seconds or display an ERR or END text.

Do not be tempted to replace the battery, as this will not help. Changing the batteries after the alarm has exceeded its life span will not stop the beeping.

Also, some CO detectors consist of features that allow the user to silence the signal for about 30 days. This is a temporary and risky solution. The device will begin beeping again after the 30-day period elapses.

NOTE: If our device has not reached its end of life, and you have determined that there is no carbon monoxide leaking, the frequent beeping is considered a false Alarm. So, why would your CO detector produce false alarms? Here are some of the reasons often determined:

  • The Carbon Monoxide May Have Seeped Through the Walls or Floor from Your Adjacent Neighbors.

Your device might be beeping to detect carbon monoxide that did not come from your appliances but your neighbor’s. Therefore, examine if your neighbors have fuel-burning appliances that might emit CO. The gas could have escaped through their chimney stacks and penetrated your house through a joint space.

  • Excess Moisture

Bathrooms and kitchens will likely have excess moisture due to several heating appliances. The moisture from the steam can trigger the carbon monoxide detector. For this reason, we advise against installing CO alarms in areas with excessive steam.

  • Lead Acid Battery Chargers

Using lead acid battery chargers can set off the alarm. This is because they produce hydrogen gas that also triggers CO detectors. Therefore, if you are charging your boat/caravan battery at home and the CO detectors keep beeping, the lead acid battery chargers could be the reason.

  • Freshly Screeded Floors

This may be surprising but accurate. Freshly screeded floors produce a gas that can trigger your CO alarm.

  • Type of Carbon Monoxide Detector

You may have installed a CO detector that is incompatible with your premises. For instance, ensure that you’re the CO detector in your caravan, tent, boat, or hoarse box living quarters is kitemarked to BS EN50291-2. BS EN50291-1 is only designed for home environments, not camping or caravanning.

Therefore, check if your alarm suits the type of premises you are in if it is constantly beeping.

  • Tobacco Smoker

If you heavily smoke in a room with poor ventilation, the CO from your cigarette smoke can falsely trigger the detector.

  • Home Location

Living in areas adjacent to busy roads increases the amount of CO concentration in your home. This will especially happen if the windows and doors are open, as traffic fumes may seep into your house and trigger the CO detector.

CAUTION!! Despite the mentioned factors being a possibility of a falsely triggered alarm, never assume it is. Carbon monoxide will likely rise to unsafe levels because your home appliances require professional inspection, repair, or replacement.

Therefore, if your alarm sounds, follow the emergency procedure and evacuate the intoxicated area to a place with a fresher area before determining its cause.

It is also essential to learn how to tell if the alarm signifies a real emergency.

Consider referring to your manufacturer’s manual, as different devices have different beeping patterns. The good news is that the sound of your CO detector indicates that it is appropriately functional or alerting you to replace something.

Meanwhile, here are some general carbon monoxide alert signals and their interpretation:

  • Four Beeps and a Pause

This is a severe indicator of danger lurking. Your CO detector will beep four times and pause if it detects unsafe CO levels within your home.

  • One beep every minute.

This usually alerts you that the detector’s batteries are low and require replacement. While this is not an emergency, it is a risk factor that your device may be dysfunctional at any time and will not alert you in dangerous situations. What’s worse, not having a CO detector or having one that’s not functional?

If it beeps after every minute, it will help if you replace your device’s batteries in the shortest time possible.

  • Five Beeps Every Minute

 Consider investing in a quality detector for more protection before the old one dies. This is a warning that your device is reaching its end of life. This is an advantage as the device warns you before it becomes completely dysfunctional.

Actions to Take If Your Carbon Monoxide Goes Off

  • Always treat the alert with the seriousness it deserves by assuming it is an emergency.
  • Immediately remove everyone, including pets, from the house and move into a place with fresh air.
  • Dial 9-1-1 or any other emergency services you have. Also, report if you suspect anyone exhibiting CO poisoning symptoms.
  • Alert your immediate neighbors, as the gas could also seep through their walls.
  • Never assume that it is safe once the alarm stops. This is because the device only signals you when to get out, not when to return. Therefore, await a professional’s approval before going back in.
  • Avoid reentering your home until the emergency team identifies the source of carbon monoxide and determines it is safe to reenter.

How to Solve Carbon Monoxide Beeping Every 30 Seconds Problem

We have looked at the possible reasons why your carbon monoxide detector beeps every 30 seconds. The three primary reasons for this scenario are: 

  • Batteries demanding a replacement
  • The device is reaching its end of life and hence requires a replacement.
  • A malfunctioned alarm due to several reasons.

One of the solutions to this problem is replacing the batteries. Below are steps to follow to replace our CO detector’s batteries

  1.  successfully.
  2. You’ll need to use a plastic tab to gently open the battery compartment to access the old batteries.
  3. Remove the old battery to create space for the new set.
  4. Examine your battery to identify the positive (+) and negative (-) terminals. Ensure that the batteries match the polarity in the battery drawer.

NOTE: If you use a 9V battery, you will notice that the negative side contains a larger opening on the back of the battery’s drawer. Therefore, it will only fit one way without forcing it.

  1. Insert the new battery into the positive compartment. The positive compartment usually contains a circular  contact closest to the CO detector’s center. The negative, usually (hexagonal ) contact, is to be closer to the outside of the detector.
  2. Once done, close the battery compartment and see if it effortlessly closes. If it doesn’t, there’s a possibility the batteries are facing the wrong direction.

After replacing the batteries as recommended, press and hold the reset button. If the alarm keeps beeping every 30 seconds, then we know the batteries were not the problem; it could be the device itself.

This brings us to the next solution, replacing the carbon monoxide detector as the old one may have reached its end of life. Usually, the alarm is designed to beep after 7-10 years of use.

If this period has elapsed, then replacing the batteries will be fruitless. You will need to replace the entire unit. This is a straightforward and DIY task. It can easily entail resting it on a high shelf in a room with fuel-burning appliances.

It will help if you read the manufacturer’s instructions in the manual on how to do it.

Before replacing the batteries or the alarm unit, you can also reset the CO detector. Do it in these three steps:

  1. Find the reset button located in the front panel. The exact location will differ depending on the brand model.
  2. Press and hold the reset button for about five to ten seconds.
  3. Release the button and wait for a beep or a flashlight, depending on the brand.

If this process doesn’t stop the beeping, then replace the batteries. If the batteries don’t solve the problem, get a new system, as your device will have reached its end of life.

Here’s How to Solve the Problem of Carbon Monoxide Detector Beeping Every 30 Seconds:

What Are the Warning Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

You will experience carbon monoxide poisoning if you inhale carbon monoxide gas. If this happens, the CO will combine with red blood cells since they absorb the gas more readily than oxygen. The carbon monoxide gas will block oxygen from the red blood cell and will begin to poison the body.

While the CO gas binds to the red blood cells faster than oxygen, it takes longer to leave the body. As a result, it will deplete oxygen from the vital body organs. This will, in turn, damage the brain, tissues, and other vital organs. In severe cases, it will lead to death.

The following are the warning signs that you are experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Dull Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Breathing difficulties/ shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of consciousness.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is more detrimental for those who are sleeping or intoxicated. They may experience irreversible brain damage from the poisoning or even die before anyone detects a problem.

While the warning signs for carbon monoxide poisoning can be subtle, they also can be a life-threatening medical emergency. Therefore, if you suspect that you or your loved ones may have experienced the poisoning, move into a fresher-aired location and seek emergency care.

So, who is at risk of experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning?

Everyone is at risk of experiencing the poisoning. However, there is a group of people medically deemed to be more susceptible to CO poisoning than the rest. These are:

Older adults. The main symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning in adults are non-specific and can mimic those of other geriatric illnesses.

While a CO detector does an excellent job of alerting you of unsafe CO levels in the house, some older adults suffer from hearing problems. This limits their ability to hear when the alarm sounds, putting them at a higher risk.

Besides, if this population experiences CO poisoning, they are more likely to develop brain damage than the rest.

Unborn Babies. Since fetal blood cells will readily take up carbon monoxide more than adult cells, unborn babies become more susceptible to CO poisoning.

Children. Children are also more susceptible to carbon monoxide poisoning because they take breaths more frequently than adults. This means they will readily breathe in carbon monoxide more than adults, making them more likely to suffer the poisoning.

People with existing medical conditions. If one has a history of anemia, respiratory complications, and chronic heart illnesses, they are more likely to get sick when exposed to carbon monoxide.

NOTE: The degree and length of exposure will determine the outcome of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Generally, one can suffer permanent brain damage and heart damage that could lead to life-threatening cardiac complications, fetal death, or miscarriage by a pregnant mother and death.

How petrifying are these effects? Quite unfathomable! It is only right that we strive to improve the quality of life by taking the necessary precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Here are some precautionary tips that would help prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors

This is the safest and surest protection against this lethal gas. A CO detector will alarm once it picks up unsafe CO levels in the atmosphere.

Install one CO detector in the hallways and near all sleeping areas to alert you and our family when asleep. Also, check and replace your batteries at least twice a year for optimum protection.

  • Open the Garage Door Before Starting Your Car.

Research shows that warming your car for a meager two minutes raises the CO levels to a dangerous 500 ppm. The gas may seep into your house for up to ten hours. Therefore, take caution, especially if your garage is attached to the house.

Minimize the CO concentration by always opening the garage door before starting your car.

  • Use Gas Appliances Only as Recommended.

The freezing temperatures during winter can be so uncomfortable that one would resort to about anything to get some warmth. This “anything” could involve the temptation of wrongly using gas appliances that emit CO fumes.

Regardless of how frustratingly cold it might get, never be tempted to use a gas stove or an oven to heat your home. Why? The gas flame that heats the oven will produce deadly carbon monoxide gas.

Verified studies show that over half of all stoves increase carbon monoxide concentrations in the kitchen beyond nine ppm.

Also, the oven burners are meant to function when the door is closed. Opening the door to help heat the room will disrupt the airflow pattern and increase carbon monoxide concentrations to unhealthy levels.

So, only consider using fuel-burning heaters in the presence of an adult who monitors them. While using them, remember to keep the doors and the windows open.

  • Properly Vent Your Fuel-Burning Appliances and Engines.

Some of the fuel-burning appliances in your home include space heaters, furnaces, water heaters, cooking ranges, fireplaces, charcoal grills, wood-burning stoves, portable generators, and car and truck engines.

If these appliances are not adequately ventilated, incomplete combustion will occur, leading to high CO levels. This will put you and your loved ones at risk of experiencing CO poisoning.

A malfunction or poor installation can also lead to the appliances producing carbon monoxide. Therefore, you want to ensure that licensed professionals regularly check all your gas appliances.

  • Properly Maintain Your Fireplace and Chimneys.

Using the fireplace in a house too tightly sealed can contribute to carbon monoxide build-up. The tightly sealed house will cause a reverse airflow in the chimney, which allows CO to penetrate the house.

Also, if debris tarps cover the chimney, it will not adequately vent out the CO gas. For this reason, always keep it unblocked by cleaning the chimney and the flue every year.

  • Be Cautious When Working with Solvents in a Closed Area.

Methylene chloride is a popular solvent found in paint and varnish removers. When inhaled, this solvent can metabolize into carbon monoxide, leading to poisoning.

Avoid such an occurrence by using the solvent in well-ventilated areas and keenly reading and following the instructions on the safety precautions on the label.

How Long Does It Take to Get Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

As we mentioned earlier, inhaling carbon monoxide is dangerous as the gas will bind with hemoglobin and displace oxygen from your body. This will, in turn, lead to the formation of carboxyhemoglobin.

Carbon monoxide has 250 times more attraction to hemoglobin than oxygen. Since the brain and heart desperately need oxygen to survive, slight oxygen deprivation and small amounts of carbon monoxide can be very detrimental. So, how long will it take to reach this level?

There is no specific time frame for carbon monoxide poisoning as several factors influence it. These include: 

  • The length of exposure to carbon monoxide gas
  • The concentration of the gas in a given atmosphere
  • The activity level of the persons affected with the carbon monoxide.
  • A person’s age and sex.
  • The general health of the affected.

The amount of concentration determines the period of carbon monoxide poisoning as described in the following:

High carbon monoxide concentration will kill in under five minutes.

A lower concentration takes more time to absorb and affects the body system.

The United States Environment and Protection Agency established that inhaling nine ppm of carbon monoxide is safe. However, if one exceeds this amount for more than eight hours, they will be at risk of adverse health effects.

The U.S. Occupational Health and Safety also established that 50 ppm is the safety limit for health workers. This is a guiding principle for several carbon monoxide detector companies as they design the devices to sound the alarm when the CO concentration exceeds 100 ppm.

The following are the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning you’ll experience based on the level of CO in your home.

  • 50 ppm and below

Most adults will not display any symptoms after 8 hours of exposure. Even if they do, they will be minimal and hardly noticeable. This is a low threshold established by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety.

  • 200 ppm

After a couple of hours of exposure to this concentration level, the victim will start experiencing slight headaches, nausea, or dizziness.

  • 400 ppm

This is a high and dangerous carbon monoxide concentration. You will start experiencing headaches and nausea within an hour or two of exposure. After three hours, you will experience more life-threatening symptoms.

  • 800 ppm

This is a high exposure level. You will start experiencing headaches, nausea, and dizziness within 45 minutes of exposure. After an hour or two, one can collapse or fall unconscious. If exposed to the same amount for about 2-3 hours, the result will be fatal as one will potentially die.

  • 1000 ppm

This is also a high concentration. You may fall unconscious within an hour of exposure at this concentration.

  • 1600 ppm

Within only 20 minutes of exposure to this CO level, you will experience a severe headache or migraine. You will also feel excessively nauseous and dizzy. Death can occur in an hour.

  • 3200 ppm

You will start experiencing headaches, dizziness, and nausea within five to ten minutes of exposure to this level. Within thirty minutes, one can collapse and fall unconscious.

  • 6400 ppm

This is an extremely high exposure level. One will fall unconscious and potentially die within 10-15 minutes of exposure at this level. You will experience headaches and dizziness in a minute or two.

  • 12800 ppm

With such an incredibly high CO concentration, you will likely lose consciousness or die in 1-3 minutes.

From the above illustration, it is crystal clear that the higher the CO concentration level, the quicker you’ll experience the poisoning and its associated risks.

Here is a summary of symptoms you will portray based on the exposure level:

Low levels, one will experience nausea, dizziness, mild headaches, fatigue, and breath shortness.

As you continue to inhale the CO, you will experience increased nausea, chest tightness, sudden sleepiness, confusion, irritability, and reduced judgment.

The symptoms worsen at high levels. You will experience vomiting, lack of coordination, high disorientation, brain damage, and eventual death.

While these symptoms are frightening, you should not panic since as long as you have a perfectly functioning carbon monoxide detector, it will alert you before it gets dire.

So then, suppose the device alerts you, and you suspect experiencing carbon monoxide poisoning; what should you do? Let’s learn this in the next section!

What Is the First Thing to Do If You Suspect Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Once you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, immediately call the emergency services for help and tell them you suspect fume inhalation.

Remove yourself or the casualty from the fumes’ source, and move to a place with fresh air. You will also open the windows and doors for fresh air. While this will not prevent the poisoning, it will reduce the CO concentration. Do not attempt reentering the fume-filled areas without licensed professionals.

If you are not affected but have a casualty, support them and encourage them to breathe normally. Also, stay with them and monitor their breathing, pulse, and response levels until the emergency responders arrive.

If you can, visit the nearest emergency department.

While at the hospital, you will receive two main types of treatment, depending on the amount of CO in your bloodstream. These are:

  • Inhaling Pure Oxygen. The health providers will mask your nose and mouth to facilitate oxygen into your organs and tissues. If breathing is impossible, a ventilator will do it for you.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. This treatment involves the affected spending time in a pressurized oxygen chamber. The air in this chamber is usually two to three times higher than usual to speed up the replacement of carbon monoxide with oxygen in your blood.

This method is mainly used in severe CO poisoning cases. It will protect the heart and tissue from CO damage. It is also recommended for pregnant women, as unborn babies are at a higher risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Final Thoughts

To survive, you need a carbon monoxide detector in your home, like food, water, and shelter. It is a life-saving necessity that will alert you when the lethal CO gas is rising to unsafe levels. However, not all its alerts are actual emergencies.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Beeping Every 30 Seconds

These are the three main reasons your carbon monoxide detector may beep every 30 seconds: battery depletion, the device’s end of life, or a system malfunction.

You can solve this by replacing the entire alarm system, especially if it has reached its end of life. However, we encourage you to treat every alarm sound as an emergency by taking the necessary safety actions before troubleshooting.

What would you like to know about carbon monoxide? Reach out to us.

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