A carbon monoxide detector in your home will offer you the peace and tranquility you never thought you needed. It offers protection against the lethal carbon monoxide gas. Now, imagine you are at home with a full house, having the time of your life, then out of the blue, you realize your carbon monoxide detector goes off then stopped. What do you do?
Well, it will be safe to stay away from your house even if the carbon monoxide detector stops, if you were inside your house when the device went off then the first step would be to open the windows so that the dangerous gas can dissipate.
The carbon monoxide detector goes off and stops for several explainable reasons. This article will explain why your carbon monoxide goes off and stops.
I will also help you determine the correct measures to take whenever your detector sounds an alarm and then stops. I will also answer frequently asked questions about carbon monoxide and its functionality.
Read on to find out more!
What Is Carbon Monoxide Gas?
Carbon monoxide often occurs as a result of incomplete combustion. This is why it’s described as a by-product of incomplete combustion.
When carbon monoxide rises to unsafe levels in the atmosphere and a human inhales it, a situation known as carbon monoxide poisoning will occur.
If this happens, the red blood cells in the human body will readily absorb the carbon monoxide. In turn, the carbon monoxide will displace and replace the oxygen in your body. This will put vital body organs and tissues like the heart and brain at risk as they depend on oxygen for survival.
Once you inhale unsafe CO levels, you’ll start experiencing such symptoms as: headaches, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, light-headedness, blurred vision, sudden sleepiness, poor muscle coordination, increased pulse rate, chest tightening, confusion, and loss of consciousness.
With such effects, it is unsurprising that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report a statistic of over 2people dying annually in the U.S. due to accidental CO poisoning. It also confirms that over 100,000 people visit the emergency department for the same reason.
Evidently, carbon monoxide poses a severe threat to any living organism depending on oxygen for survival.
What makes it even more lethal is its colorless and odorless nature, making it impossible for the human senses to detect. This is the necessity that led to the invention of the carbon monoxide detector.
Knowing the sources of this poisonous gas will also help us identify the potential source of danger in case the detector sounds the alarm. So, what are the sources of CO?
Burning oil, fuels, propane, and gas will cause a buildup of carbon monoxide. Also, when fuel burns in your car, truck, stove, grill, fireplace, gas ranges, furnaces, and coal will lead to the emission of CO gas. The everyday appliances in our home, like the oven, stove, air conditioner, and freezer, emit CO.
This explains why having a carbon monoxide detector in your home is critical. It will alert you when CO rises to unsafe levels, allowing you to take necessary precautions to avoid fatalities.
Now that we know more about the deadly carbon monoxide gas let’s discuss why your carbon monoxide detector went off and stopped.
Why Your Carbon Monoxide Detector Went Off Then Stopped
Your carbon monoxide detector going off and then stopping can be terrifying yet annoying. While it can irritate you to a desperate point of wanting to uninstall it, please do not fall into the temptation.
Remember that the detector is necessary to protect you and your loved ones from an invisible, scentless, colorless, and poisonous CO gas.
To better understand the intensity of the situation, let’s first get an insight into how dangerous carbon monoxide is and how it can easily seep into our house and jeopardize the promising future you and your loved ones have.
The Following are Possible Reasons Why the Carbon Detector Went off and then Stopped:
We all understand that continuous use of anything will lead to wear and tear. This also applies to the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector. The more you use them, the more their performance decline.
Usually, the detector ought to inform you when the battery levels hit below the minimum limit. If this happens, your device will beep three times and then stop.
You will also notice that the red lights are not blinking when beeping. Therefore, it is typical for carbon monoxide detectors not connected to the grid to experience low battery issues.
However, if the device is faulty, it will beep every thirty to sixty seconds. In such a case, you will need to replace your device immediately.
End of Life of the Detector
The gas sensors of the device have an estimated lifespan of about two to five years. Most carbon monoxide detectors are designed to last up to seven years. Other brands would function appropriately for up to ten years.
Therefore, if the estimated lifespan elapses, you will have to replace it as not even functional batteries will improve its efficiency. This is because, as much as the batteries will function, the sensors will be long dead; hence they will hardly offer you any protection.
The effects of depending on an expired carbon monoxide detector are unfathomable! Consider replacing it every few years for optimum indoor space home security.
Your Carbon Detector Could be Damaged or Out of Service.
While most carbon detectors will come with an expiry date, their efficiency may stop before the estimated lifespan. The detector may be worn out or broken. Because of this, it may start beeping erratically.
Also, if the detector’s sensors are broken or damaged, they won’t be able to sense and warn the users of impending danger. Therefore, consider replacing the whole unit every few years, regardless of the expiry date, for optimum protection.
Fire Outbreak in the Home
An actual fire incident in the house can also trigger the carbon monoxide alarm to go off and then stop. Thanks to technology, you’ll get advanced carbon monoxide detectors in the market that are interconnected.
For this reason, if a fire occurs in a given room in the house, the respective CO detector will beep and alert the rest, which will begin beeping.
If this happens, consider identifying the source of the beeping. Or even better, immediately evacuate the premises with your family and pets as you wait for the arrival of the emergency responders.
Sudden Room Temperature Changes
The advanced CO detectors in the market also contain heat detectors, making the device erratically beep.
For instance, indoor temperature changes due to potent air conditioning or hot wind, steam, or heat from the kitchen and bathroom appliances may also seep into the detectors, causing unnecessary beeping. Also, if the thermostat temperatures are higher or lower than usual, the heat sensors may determine that something is off, and the detector will beep.
In such cases, it will help if you install the detector at a reasonable distance away from appliances that regularly emit carbon monoxide. This will save you the emotional anguish that comes with the erratic beeping of your detector.
Poor Installation and Maintenance
If the device is poorly installed, it is bound not to function correctly, causing unnecessary beeping. Consider hiring licensed professionals to install the CO detector and advise on maintaining it.
Presence of Dust or Steam
Dust is a common environmental element that can interfere with the functioning of our carbon monoxide device. This will especially happen if you ignore cleaning the detector for a while, as dust will accumulate on it.
The dust will choke the sensors, resulting in the alarm sounding. Save yourself from the distress of frequent and unnecessary beeps by occasionally cleaning your detector.
Also, if you installed your carbon monoxide near bathrooms, the steam and moisture from the room may trigger it. This is not a cause for alarm as it is primarily solvable by changing the detector’s location.
Trigger by the Device’s Error Codes from Previous Instances.
The sensors in your carbon monoxide detector may retain logs whose records may trigger the alarm. Luckily enough, this problem is just a reset away from being solved.
Locate the test button and press it for about five to ten seconds. This will erase the error codes, thereby stopping the erratic beeping.
You Wrongly Inserted the Battery
Your carbon monoxide detector will likely produce high-pitched beeps when you do not correctly insert the battery.
Solve this by pulling the tabs to deprive the detector of its power. However, it will still warn and alert you to insert a new battery set. Insert the batteries properly by correctly matching the device’s positive (+) and negative (+) terminals. You will then notice the compartment effortlessly closing. This will stop the annoying chirps.
An Open Battery Door and Pull Tab that’s not Disengaged.
Almost all batteries will come with pull tabs. The pull tab is meant to prevent the battery from getting into contact with other objects. Some people may fail to disengage the pull tab. They insert the batteries with the pull tab still intact. This will prevent the batteries from supplying power to the carbon detector.
As a result, the device will be triggered to alert you of the need for new batteries since it will run out of battery backup. Resolve this by removing the pull tab, inserting the battery correctly, and closing the door.
The above factors are possible reasons your carbon monoxide alarm goes off and stops. But then, what next? What should you do when the carbon monoxide alarm goes off and then stops? Let’s learn in the next section below.
What to Do When Carbon Monoxide Alarm Goes Off and then Stops?
Never be tempted to ignore the beeping of your carbon monoxide detector despite the possibility of it being a false alarm. You do not want you or your loved ones to add to the statistics of hundreds of people dying due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
The following are the recommended actions you should take immediately after your CO detector goes off:
Move to an Outdoor Space
If you have started experiencing CO symptoms, promptly open your home’s ventilation and move to an outdoor space. While opening the windows and doors will not prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, it will help slow it down.
Look out for symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, headaches, low blood pressure, and difficulties in breathing.
WARNING! Failure to move out to an open place with fresh air may result in carbon monoxide poisoning. This can lead to outcomes as fatal as death.
Immediately Call Your Local Emergency Services Providers.
Once you and your loved ones are in a safe non-intoxicated area, call the emergency services near you, such as the nearest hospital or the fire department.
TIP: For better preventive action, ensure that you always have an escape plan in a place familiar to you and your family. This will help you adequately prepare and act in case of such an unfortunate eventuality.
Inspect the Indoor Space for Possible Carbon Monoxide Leaks
After the emergency is resolved, it would be wise to hire licensed professionals to inspect the building for potential sources of carbon monoxide leaks. You’ll be surprised that this sneaky gas could come from anywhere. It could be coming from the ventilation systems, the generator, the chimney, the furnaces, or central heating devices.
These devices will likely emit carbon monoxide because of poor installation, maintenance, or malfunction.
Test the Detectors Occasionally.
Having a carbon monoxide detector alone is not enough. You want to ensure the device is not malfunctioning by testing it at least once every month.
If they are battery-operated, consider replacing them once in a few months.
Takeaway: While your carbon monoxide detector going off and then stopping can cause frustration and havoc, do not panic over it. Evacuate the premises, then call the emergency services.
You will then diagnose the potential cause of the alarm sounding. Stay armed with an escape plan for you and your family in an emergency!
Here’s What to Do When a Carbon Monoxide Detector Goes Off:
What Can Falsely Set Off a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
When your carbon monoxide detector goes off, yet no trace of carbon monoxide is detected by your engineers, it is referred to as a false alarm.
Below are some causes of a false alarm from your CO detector.
The Carbon Monoxide Detected is Not From Your House
Your carbon monoxide detector may have sensed the dangerous gas, but not from your house. The gas could have seeped through your neighbor’s walls or floor.
If this is the case, consider checking for any fuel appliances from your neighbor’s home that might emit carbon monoxide. The gas could have escaped through the chimney stacks and penetrated your house through a joint loft space.
The Device May Have Reached and Exceeded Its End of Life Date
Like everything else that does not last forever, carbon monoxide detectors are also designed to last for five to seven years. If your device exceeds this lifespan, there is a high chance it will start producing false alarms. Exceeding the replacement date is considered the leading cause of false alarms in CO detectors.
Check the expiry date stamped on the back of your unit. If it has reached its due date, consider replacing it immediately. Using an expired carbon monoxide detector puts you and your family in a life-threatening situation of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Excessive Moisture from the Bathroom
We all want to enjoy that long hot shower, especially this winter. Unfortunately, the steam from the hot shower can trigger your carbon monoxide detector, causing unnecessary panic. To prevent this, consider installing your CO detector away from areas with excessive steam.
The Los Angeles Times once reported a thick fog in Southern California that triggered more than 3,300 carbon monoxide alarms. As a result, most homeowners fell into a panic state, flooding gas companies with calls. This is evidence enough that excessive moisture can trigger your carbon monoxide alarm.
Humidity will also trigger a false alarm from your CO detector. Most carbon monoxide detectors in the market consist of bi-metal sensors that are highly sensitive to temperature changes.
High humidity causes moisture to accumulate around the device sensors, causing them to expand and trigger a false alarm. Besides, high humidity will also corrode the sensors in the carbon monoxide detector, which can also lead to a false alarm. Therefore, we recommend maintaining a moisture level of between 30-50% to avoid this.
Lead Acid Battery Chargers
While lead acid batteries do not emit carbon monoxide gas, they emit hydrogen. Your carbon monoxide detector should activate once it picks carbon monoxide levels above 100 parts per million for 30 minutes. Interestingly, this same device will equally activate if it detects 300 ppm of hydrogen gas for thirty minutes.
Therefore, charging your caravan/boat battery at home will introduce hydrogen gas which will trigger the CO detector. Sufficiently ventilate your space using lead-acid batteries to prevent a false alarm.
Freshly Screeded Floors
Screeding floors entails applying a thin concrete layer to level the floor. However, when this concrete begins to dry, it will give off carbon monoxide gas that will, in turn, trigger the CO detector.
If the alarm is persistent, please call your local fire department or gas company to investigate the issue.
Homes Closely Located to Busy Roads.
High traffic jams characterize busy roads, and several vehicles emit exhaust fumes.
If your home is located in such a place, the CO detector sensors will mistake car exhaust fumes for carbon monoxide. This will trigger the alarm despite no sense of danger.
Solve this issue by installing your carbon monoxide detector away from windows and doors through which exhaust fumes from passing cars may penetrate.
Doing so also gives you the peace and certainty that your CO detector will only sound when there’s an actual danger of CO buildup.
This is one reason that people can hardly imagine. Insects can trigger a false alarm if they crawl and die in the sensing chambers.
Avoid this situation by ensuring your detector is clean and free from insects. Regularly vacuum the sensor and spray an insecticide around the perimeter’s detector.
If insects are a nuisance in your locality, consider using a screen over the opening of the sensor to prevent them from entering.
A dying battery in a CO detector will trigger a false alarm. CO detectors are designed to beep to alert you of a dying battery for at least a month before completely shutting off.
Avoid this problem by replacing the batteries every six months.
The Carbon Monoxide Detector is not Compatible with the Type of Premises.
You may have installed a carbon monoxide detector incompatible with your premises. Check to ensure your alarm is kitemarked to BS EN50291-2 if installed in a caravan, tent, boat, or the living quarters of a horsebox.
This is because BS EN50291-1 tested alarms can only be used in home environments and are unsuitable for camping and caravanning.
Tobacco Smoke In the Room
Burning tobacco will give off more than 7,000 chemical arrays. Out of the 7000, about 250 of them can cause health hazards. They include ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, and carbon monoxide.
Although it rarely happens, heavily smoking tobacco in a poorly ventilated room will cause CO from the smoke to set off your alarm.
Therefore, it is highly recommended that you smoke your cigarette in a well-ventilated space.
Carbon Detectors Installed Close to Fuel-Burning Appliances
Fuel-burning appliances such as wood-burning stoves, furnaces, water heaters, and portable gas heaters will produce trim levels of carbon monoxide. This will happen despite being in perfect condition.
While the low levels of CO produced may not be harmful, placing your detectors too close to these appliances may trigger your alarm. Therefore, consider placing the detector at least 15 to 20 feet away from them to avoid false readings.
NOTE: Never assume that your carbon monoxide detector alarm sound is false despite the several indicated possibilities. Malfunctioned appliances will increase the CO in your house to unsafe levels. If this happens, follow the emergency procedures described earlier in the article.
Given the several possibilities of the CO detector producing a false alarm, you’d also want to know how to tell if the emergency is real. Let’s learn below:
How to Tell If It’s a Real Emergency
Befriend your device’s manual! A carbon monoxide detector will beep to signify that it is perfectly functional, to give a false alarm, or to inform you of the need to replace something. The manual from your manufacturer will give you specific interpretations of the different beeps.
Here are some general interpretations of the sounds;
Four Beeps and a Pause.
Your CO monitor will beep like this once it picks up unsafe levels of carbon monoxide in your home. This signifies danger lurking! Stop everything else when you hear this, and take the necessary safety precautions!
A beep after every minute.
This device warns you that the batteries are dying and require a replacement. This is not an emergency. However, replace the batteries as soon as possible.
Five Beeps Every Minute
This usually indicates that your device is approaching its end of life. This is an interesting feature of carbon monoxide detectors. Instead of abruptly dying, they give you a warning, thus allowing enough time to invest in a suitable replacement.
Takeaway: Always refer to your device’s manual. The false alerts discussed in this article may vary from one brand to another.
Why Did My Carbon Monoxide Detector Go Off for a Few Seconds?
Here are the main reasons your carbon monoxide detector will go off for a few seconds:
To Indicate That It Is Perfectly Functional
We’d all jump to this most apparent conclusion when our carbon monoxide alarm goes off.
It will beep to alert you on unsafe CO levels in the atmosphere. It could have picked the gas from a neighbor’s house or yours.
Take safety precautions by moving to open the windows and doors, moving to a place with fresh air, and calling emergency services.
It Is a False Alarm
Any fuel-burning appliance in your domestic property can trigger your CO alarm. This is because they give off trim CO levels, which can rise slightly if the rooms are not adequately ventilated.
It is Alerting you to Change the Batteries or Replace the Unit
If the batteries are dying, your CO detector will beep for a few seconds for a month before they are completely dysfunctional. It will also beep to alert you that the device is approaching its end life and that you need to replace it.
If you are at home or on vacation with your loved ones, you must pay attention to several security concerns around you so that everyone is safe. You must not ignore the slightest cases where…
Carbon Monoxide Detector Goes Off Then Stopped
What will you do? You will likely panic as this indicates life-threatening CO levels in the atmosphere.
However, sometimes such an alarm sound does not signify the presence of CO. It could be because of excess moisture content, device expiry, and faulty batteries, among other factors.
Lead acid batteries, high humidity, dust, and other discussed factors can trigger a false alarm from your CO detector.
Never ignore the alarm, despite the possibility of it being false. Quickly evacuate the building, and call emergency services before you start troubleshooting. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
I hope the article was informative and insightful. Best of luck as you take every necessary precaution to protect your loved ones from the lethal CO gas!