Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, tasteless, and invisible gas generated by fuel burning appliances like generators and furnaces. But it is a dangerous gas that kills in minutes if present in high concentrations.
Fortunately, you can keep your home and loved ones safe from this deadly gas by installing Carbon Monoxide detectors. They alert you after detecting high CO levels, giving you sufficient time to leave the premises.
It is vital to learn how CO detectors communicate with you. They beep due to various reasons, requiring you to have the correct interpretation. Otherwise, you won’t know what to do.
Here is a discussion to improve your experience with a CO detector unit. You’ll minimize guesswork and guarantee optimal efficiency: Carbon Monoxide Detector Beeping Intermittently.
Carbon Monoxide detectors beep intermittently to communicate different possibilities. For instance, four beeps and a pause are an emergency alert. It means that the device has detected CO in the facility. So, you should move outside and call 911.
One beep every minute indicates low battery for battery-operated Carbon Monoxide detectors. Thus, it is time to replace the dry cells before the device goes off.
Finally, five beeps every minute communicate the detector’s end-of-life, meaning you should replace the unit.
Read on for more information on how Carbon Monoxide detectors work, other factors that trigger them apart from CO, and what to do when the alarm goes off. In addition, you’ll find answers to frequently raised concerns by users.
What Is a Carbon Monoxide Detector
A CO detector is a device that detects carbon monoxide to prevent CO poisoning. Further, carbon monoxide is a tasteless, odorless, and colorless gas generated by the incomplete combustion of carbon-containing substances.
Usually, Carbon Monoxide is called the ‘silent killer’ as it is literally undetectable by humans. Studies show that about 60% of Americans cannot identify potential signs of a CO leak in a facility.
Elevated Carbon Monoxide levels are dangerous to humans depending on the gas amount and exposure length. Smaller CO concentrations are harmful over longer periods while increasing levels need diminishing exposure times to cause a hazard.
Thankfully, Carbon Monoxide detectors measure CO levels over time and trigger the alarm before dangerous gas levels accumulate in the environment.
So, you have an adequate warning to safely ventilate or evacuate the area. Better still, some system-connected gadgets alert a monitoring service to dispatch emergency services if needed.
Although Carbon Monoxide detectors do not function as smoke sensors and vice versa, you can get combined CO and smoke detectors. The devices monitor smoke and CO levels and trigger an alarm when they exceed the prescribed threshold.
Sources of Carbon Monoxide in homes include space heaters, blocked chimneys, running cars or grills in a garage, open flames, and water heaters.
Carbon Monoxide detectors work through electrochemical sensors with electrodes submerged in an electrically conductive solution known as an electrolyte. So, a chemical reaction occurs when the gas enters the gas-permeable compartment housing the sensor.
As a result, the electrical current passing through the electrolyte surges. In addition, the increased current levels alert the detector of a high concentration of Carbon Monoxide molecules.
CO detectors sound an alarm after sensing a certain Carbon Monoxide amount over time. Also, different sensors give off various alerts:
- Metal Oxide Semiconductor: Metal oxide sensors use circuitry instead of a chemical solution. Further, as Carbon monoxide meets the detector’s chip, it lowers the material’s electrical resistance.
- Biomimetic Sensor: This device includes a gel that changes color after absorbing Carbon Monoxide. This color change activates the sensor and triggers the alarm.
- Electrochemical Sensor: Electrodes in a chemical liquid sense an electrical current change when they have contact with Carbon Monoxide. This change activates the system and triggers an alarm.
Once the CO detector alarm sounds, only a Carbon Monoxide-free area can silence the siren. But you can manually switch off the alarm, especially if it was a false one and there is no pending danger.
Types of Carbon Monoxide Detectors
We have various Carbon Monoxide detectors to accommodate various household needs and user preferences. In addition, each type has different and specific features to guarantee superior protection.
Carbon Monoxide detectors are categorized based on their functionality and technology. Below is a summary of what to expect in the market.
- Hardwired CO Detectors: These units connect to the home’s electrical grid and work throughout unless the power goes off. But some AC-power CO sensors can have a battery backup to guarantee their functionality during a power outage.
- Battery-Operated CO Detectors: These gadgets have basic sensing and display. They also need batteries to operate.
- Digital CO Detectors: These sensors show Carbon Monoxide levels on a digital screen, allowing you to take action before the situation becomes hazardous.
- Smart CO Detectors: These systems run diagnostics and sync with your home’s smart and automation applications. Therefore, you can get alerts on connected devices, such as a smartphone or a tablet.
- Dual-Function CO Detectors: These sensors detect multiple threats like Carbon Monoxide, fire, smoke, and other harmful gases.
The best Carbon Monoxide detector is one that meets your security needs and intended purpose. Therefore, take your time and evaluate each product’s special features before making a decision.
Why Does My Carbon Monoxide Detector Only Beep at Night?
Unfortunately, beeping Carbon Monoxide detectors is an occurrence most homeowners must encounter in their lifetime. Hence, knowing what triggers the alarm and how to prevent any nuisance sounds from the alarm is essential. Below is why your CO detector beeps at night or any other time.
- Reason One: Warning You of High Carbon Monoxide Levels
Your CO detector may beep at night because of high concentrations of Carbon Monoxide. Also, do not always assume that the CO leak is in your house. Sometimes it comes from a neighboring facility.
However, if you realize that you are inadvertently breathing in Carbon Monoxide, move away from your present environment. Then, call 911 or emergency service to investigate the incident.
Symptoms associated with Carbon Monoxide poisoning include stomach pain, dizziness, difficulty breathing, and nausea. So, if you feel these signs after the detector beeps at night, take prompt action.
- Reason Two: Flat Batteries
Carbon Monoxide detectors beep at night because of flat batteries. Low or flat batteries impede the gadget’s functionality. Hence, it gives off a faint beep or chirp to warn you and encourage you to replace the dry cells.
Also, you can test the detector to confirm that its batteries are running low. Press the tiny test button on the device and monitor the beeping. If the batteries are flat, change them and check whether the chirp stops.
- Reason Three: The Detector is Faulty
CO detectors from reputable companies are good quality with a five-year guarantee. Moreover, they last up to seven years before needing a replacement. But sometimes, the gadgets go faulty.
Here, get a qualified technician to assess the detector and advice whether it needs repairing or a replacement.
There are also different types of chirps and beeps from Carbon Monoxide detectors at night. For instance, four beeps and a pause alert you of an emergency. This means that the device has detected CO in the area and you should move to a well-ventilated area.
One beep every minute shows a low battery. So, it is time to replace the dry cells in the CO detector.
Lastly, five beeps every minute indicate the end-of-life of the detector. It is time to replace the system.
How Do I Get My Carbon Monoxide Detector to Stop Beeping?
Although Carbon Monoxide detectors are life-savers, beeping at night may make you wish that you did not have one. However, you can enjoy the benefits of the device while minimizing its inconveniences.
A CO detector often beeps to alert you of a flat battery. Thus, replace the dry cells to silence the beep and hold the silence/test alarm to turn off the high Carbon Monoxide warning alarm.
Below is how to handle a beeping Carbon Monoxide detector:
- Press the Test Button
Usually, four beeps followed by a short pause show an emergency. This means that the detector has sensed dangerous CO amounts and you need to evacuate the facility. Further, check the manufacturer’s manual before there is an emergency to learn different CO detector beeps.
Stop the sound by pressing and holding the test/silence button for five seconds to reset the alarm. However, you will keep seeing a flashing light that indicates high Carbon Monoxide levels.
You may have to press the test button multiple times to stop the sound. Also, the alarm may trigger again after a few minutes if the Carbon Monoxide concentration remains unsafe.
NB: The test/silence button is also called the mute, reset, test/mute, or a combination of these terms. Consult your user manual or manufacturer for specifics.
- Replace the Batteries
A single beep every thirty to sixty seconds shows that the battery is low. So, first, locate the beeping device. Then, remove it from the wall to replace the batteries.
Most wired units are mounted in a circular place. You only need to twist them counterclockwise until they come off. Further, if the detector keeps beeping with a fresh battery, its end-of-life is near.
Stop the sound by removing the old battery. Then, wait thirty seconds before installing the new one. In addition, match the positive end of the dry cell with the positive terminal and the negative end to the negative terminal.
Remember, most Carbon Monoxide sensors use nine-volt batteries, but some use AAA or AA ones. So, choose the most suitable dry cell for your unit.
- Ensure the Device is Plugged in
Random chirps or a continuous beep shows that there is a power issue. Various CO detector models beep if unplugged or there is a wiring problem, a power outage, or an issue with the sensor.
You can guarantee that the beep does not occur again by ensuring the CO detector is plugged in. In addition, always inspect the Carbon Monoxide sensor unit to ensure that wire connections are intact and secure.
Sometimes a clogged filter causes the device to beep. Thus, wipe the air filter with a damp rag, but avoid getting the detector wet. Also, try disconnecting and reconnecting the device or wrapping frayed wires with electrical tape.
Finally, call a professional to evaluate and inspect the device if your device still squeals despite the power and wiring working fine. In most cases, a DIY job may make the situation worse, especially if you are not conversant with the device.
What Causes a Carbon Monoxide Detector to Go Off and Then Stop?
Reasons a Carbon Monoxide detector goes off and then stops include low battery, end of life, a malfunctioned device, dust or smoke, sudden temperature changes, and fire in the neighborhood.
Remember, Carbon Monoxide is an odorless and invisible gas that can sneak up on you without warning. This attribute makes the gas very dangerous as it accumulates easily in closed spaces. Further, CO causes brain damage, nausea, and at times, death.
As such, homeowners and commercial establishments should install Carbon Monoxide detectors for guaranteed safety. Moreover, these devices alert users of increased CO levels, allowing them to take prompt action.
However, it is not strange for the Carbon Monoxide detector to go off and then stop. These few short beeps followed by an awkward silence are a way of the device alerting you of something wrong.
This occurrence causes some concerns and it is prudent to take every CO detector alarm seriously. Further, although we might eventually disregard false alerts, it could be fatal if one ignores a real emergency.
Let’s discuss why your Carbon Monoxide detector beeps erratically and suddenly stops, and how to resolve the issue.
- Low Battery Issues
CO detectors that do not use AC power may face low battery issues. Further, they are designed to alert you when the battery is lower than the minimum level. So, the gadget beeps thrice.
However, do not confuse this beeping with chirps from a faulty Carbon Monoxide detector. It beeps every thirty to sixty seconds and requires an immediate unit replacement.
- Damaged or Out of Service CO Detector
Most Carbon Monoxide detectors have an expiration date. However, they usually fail before the said day, requiring you to be vigilant. But you will get an alert before the device goes completely off.
A broken CO detector also beeps erratically without the presence of hazardous Carbon Monoxide levels. Malfunctioned sensors cannot use their judgment and will warn you of non-existent CO. Therefore, replace the unit every few years to guarantee optimal protection.
- The Unit’s Lifespan is Over
Carbon Monoxide detectors last roughly five to seven years, whereas gas’ sensors live for two to five years. Further, these durations remain relevant regardless of whether the battery is functional.
Replace the CO detector when the time comes. Otherwise, it won’t work despite having a working battery, which is fatal to many lives.
- Sudden Room Temperature Changes
Most advanced Carbon Monoxide detectors have heat sensors. Hence, they can beep erratically due to the following.
- Heat or steam from the bathroom or kitchen
- Change in the room’s temperature due to the hot wind blowing in or powerful air conditioning.
- Unusually low or higher thermostat temperature.
The above scenarios can cause unnecessary worry. Consider removing the CO detector and mounting it in another area. This way, your daily activities will not trigger it, saving you unnecessary bills and stress.
- Fire in Another Room
Modern Carbon Monoxide sensors are interconnected, especially if they are hardwired and have a continuous electricity supply. Also, if there is a fire in one room, all the detectors in the house will beep.
As such, identify the source of the beeping before switching off the alarm. In addition, leave the house with essential items and call 911 or the fire department if you cannot douse the fire alone.
- Dust or Steam
Dust settles on Carbon Monoxide detectors and chokes the sensors. Further, they trigger the alarm, causing unnecessary franticness. Thus, clean the device occasionally and minimize the beeps.
Similarly, steam triggers CO and smoke detectors near bathrooms. But there is nothing to worry about. Simply reinstall the unit somewhere else in the house.
- Triggered Error Codes From Previous Instances
Carbon Monoxide detectors log error codes when triggered. However, once you resolve the issue or replace the battery in case of a faulty battery, the unit may beep three times before stopping.
Usually, this happens if the error codes from previous occurrences were not erased. So, press the test button for five to ten seconds to stop the erratic beeping.
- Open Battery Door & Disengaged Pull Tab
Most batteries have pull tabs to prevent battery contact with other gadgets. Besides, a new battery with an intact pull tab may not supply any power to the Carbon Monoxide detector. This scenario triggers the detector as it attempts to alert you to insert new dry cells.
Remove the pull tab before inserting the battery and close the battery door properly. This way, you prevent unnecessary chirps.
- Incorrect Battery Installation
Battery-operated and hardwired Carbon Monoxide detectors have battery backup in case of power loss. Further, inserting these batteries incorrectly causes the device to beep frequently. So, follow the manual’s battery insertion procedure for optimal functioning.
What Are Two Warning Signs of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Generally, there are multiple warning signs of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. They include dizziness, weakness, headache, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, upset stomach, and confusion. Worse still, breathing in a lot of CO can make one pass out or kill them.
However, we’d say that flu-like symptoms, such as coughing, headaches, fever, or fatigue, and breathing difficulties are primary warning signs for CO poisoning.
What Can Falsely Set Off a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
False alarms are when your Carbon Monoxide detector triggers the alarm without detecting carbon monoxide. They are quite frustrating and cause homeowners to panic unnecessarily. Hence, knowing the reason for the alarms and how to prevent them is essential.
- Maybe the Carbon Monoxide detected did not originate from your appliances. It may have seeped through the neighbor’s floor and walls. So, check if your neighbor has fuel-burning appliances emitting Carbon Monoxide.
- Carbon Monoxide might escape from chimney stacks and enter your premises through a joint loft space, increasing the CO levels.
- Carbon Monoxide alarms become erratic when you exceed their replace-by date. Furthermore, this is the most common reason for nuisance alarms.
- Excessive moisture from steam rooms and bathrooms can set off your Carbon Monoxide detector. As such, avoid mounting the devices in areas with excessive steam.
- Lead acid battery chargers often produce hydrogen gas which triggers Carbon Monoxide detectors. Remember this aspect when you’re charging your boat or caravan battery at home.
- Freshly screeded flooring emits a gas that triggers Carbon Monoxide detectors.
- A Carbon Monoxide detector is susceptible to false alarms if it is not suitable for the premises. For instance, ensure your alarm is Kitemarked to BS EN50291-2 for a boat, tent, caravan, or living quarters of a horsebox. BS EN 50291-1 alarms are only ideal for home environments not camping or caravanning.
- A heavy smoker in a poorly ventilated room can trigger a Carbon Monoxide detector.
- Homes adjacent to very busy roads experience higher Carbon Monoxide levels. Traffic fumes enter the house through open windows and trigger the alarm.
Thankfully, you can minimize false alarms from a Carbon Monoxide detector by following the tips below.
- Test your CO sensors monthly to confirm that they are functioning optimally.
- Replace the detector’s batteries at least once every six months.
- Clean the Carbon Monoxide detector unit once a month. Gently vacuum the device using a vacuum’s soft attachment or a can of clean compressed air. Further, avoid using cleaners, solvents, and water as they damage the detector.
- Replace the CO detector if it is excessively contaminated by dust, grime, or dirt and cannot be cleaned.
- Relocate the sensor away from dusty, greasy, and dirty areas like furnace rooms, unfinished attics, crawl spaces, and garages.
- Position Carbon Monoxide detectors at least ten feet away from air streams near kitchens or cooking appliances. The cooking smoke fools the device, causing nuisance alarms.
- Install the devices ten feet from extremely humid spaces like the sauna, humidifier, dishwasher, utility room, laundry room, vaporizer, and shower.
- Keep CO detectors at least 20 feet from heat sources with combustion particles like a furnace, stove, space heater, water heater, or poorly ventilated areas like garages, kitchens, and furnace rooms.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Where Do I Place Carbon Monoxide Detectors in My Home?
Most building codes need a Carbon Monoxide detector on each home level and in the immediate vicinity of bedrooms. For instance, a two-story house needs at least two CO detectors with one in the hallway serving the rooms.
However, industry experts recommend having the devices in each sleeping area and the living room. Although installing multiple Carbon Monoxide detectors is expensive, you’ll guarantee maximum protection and prevent health hazards.
You can set your CO detector anywhere in the room. It is mythical that Carbon Monoxide is heavier than air and that the sensors should be set close to the ground. CO is slightly lighter than air and fills the room uniformly.
But avoid placing Carbon Monoxide detectors in kitchens, garages, bathrooms as you may experience frequent false alarms.
- How Do I Pick the Best Carbon Monoxide Detector?
We have three types of Carbon Monoxide sensors: electrochemical, biomimetic, and metal oxide. Further, all these categories are tested and reliable in testing the gas. Hence, you’ll get the most significant features.
One essential feature to confirm in a CO detector is interconnectivity. Interconnected Carbon Monoxide detectors will all produce alarm sounds even if only one senses high CO concentrations.
This is beneficial as the alarms simultaneously alert everyone in the facility. In addition, nowadays, interconnected alarms do not need wiring thanks to the emergence of WiFi and Bluetooth.
Another feature to consider when getting a Carbon Monoxide detector is how it is powered. For instance, battery-only brands are the least reliable and preferred as most homeowners forget to replace the batteries.
On the other hand, hard-wired and plug in models do not rely on batteries but won’t function during a power outage. So, hard-wired and plug-in detectors with a battery backup guarantee the most reliable protection.
Lastly, consider whether your Carbon Monoxide detector has smart features. Several devices accommodate a smartphone, Alexa, and other smart home systems. As such, you can easily test, monitor, and sync your CO detectors.
- Who Is at Risk From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Unfortunately, everyone is at risk for Carbon Monoxide poisoning. Even worse, the elderly, people with chronic heart disease conditions, breathing problems, or anemia, and infants are more likely to suffer from CO poisoning.
Sadly, more than 100, 000 Americans visit the emergency room, 14,000 are hospitalized, and 400 die annually due to unintentional Carbon Monoxide poisoning unlinked to fires. Therefore, everyone should be vigilant and ensure their living spaces are secured by CO detectors.
- What Do I Do If The Carbon Monoxide Detector Chirps?
Carbon Monoxide gas is a hazardous, silent killer. Hundreds of people die annually due to CO poisoning. Thus, if your CO detector beeps for genuine reasons, below are the action points.
- Get Out of the House if You Have Any Symptoms. Move to an outdoor area immediately if you notice CO poisoning symptoms. They include Nausea, headaches, dizziness, breathing problems, and low blood pressure.
Failure to leave the space leads to severe Carbon Monoxide poisoning, which has more disastrous effects like unconsciousness and death.
- Contact the Local Emergency Services Immediately. Call up emergency services such as the fire department and the nearest hospital in case any person has severe CO symptoms. Also, ask your family to double-check whether they think someone is still trapped in the building.
Always have a detailed escape plan for unfortunate events like a Carbon Monoxide or fire break out. This way, people won’t be confused on where to go or what to do. For example, most facilities have a specific spot where people should gather during an emergency.
- Inspect the Facility for Carbon Monoxide leaks. Hire professionals to inspect the facility once the emergency resolves. It helps identify CO potential leaks and fix them to avoid another episode.
Furthermore, this sneaky gas can leak from various appliances such as generators, furnaces, chimneys, ventilation systems, and central heating units. These devices cause CO leaks when damaged or used incorrectly.
- Test the detectors Occasionally. Experts recommend testing your Carbon Monoxide detector alarms at least monthly to confirm they are functioning optimally. Also, change the batteries for battery-operated devices once every six months.
Although you’d be startled when a CO detector goes off for no reason, approach the issue calmly. First, diagnose the cause and take necessary measures to reset the units.
Otherwise, if it is a legit alarm, leave the premises immediately and call up emergency services. In addition, always be ready with an escape plan for easy movement.
- Why are Carbon Monoxide Leaks More Likely During Winter?
CO can leak into your home anytime of the year. But winter months are the most risky because more people use fuel-burning furnaces to keep the home warm. Moreover, malfunctioning furnaces are the most common source of Carbon Monoxide leaks.
Furnace issues such as incomplete combustion, a clogged flue pipe, or a cracked heat exchanger cause CO to leak out of the system and get into the atmosphere. Hence, ensure all your home’s Carbon Monoxide detectors function properly to keep your family safe before winter kicks in.
Also, most homes are more sealed up during cold months. Furthermore, rarely do homeowners open their windows and doors during winter. Some people even seal up their homes with weather stripping and caulk to keep cold drafts away.
As a result, if Carbon Monoxide sneaks into the air, there are lower chances to vent it outside during winter.
You cannot see, smell, or taste Carbon Monoxide but in abundance, it kills within minutes. Thankfully, we have Carbon Monoxide detectors to alert us before the gas accumulates. These devices measure CO’s concentration in the air and sound the alarm if the gas is around long enough to cause problems.
However, CO detectors beep and send alerts without sensing Carbon Monoxide, which is a nuisance to homeowners. Moreover, it makes people panic for nothing and they may later ignore legit alerts thinking they’re false.
The above discussion seeks to provide more insight into the devices and how to interpret various reactions.
Carbon Monoxide Detector Beeping Intermittently
Usually, Carbon Monoxide detectors beep intermittently to alert you of a malfunctioning battery, an emergency, or a device at its end-of-life. Therefore, confirm what the reason is and take necessary measures.
For example, replace old or flat batteries, leave the area in case of an emergency alert, and replace the CO detector if its lifespan is over. This way, you keep the home security devices functional and guarantee peace of mind.