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Carbon monoxide CO alarm sound-off troubleshooting: this document discusses the causes of CO alarms going off - when a carbon monoxide alarm sounds you should assume there is dangerous carbon monoxide gas (CO) present. But other things might set off some alarm and not all of them are CO hazards. Beware that the production of dangerous carbon monoxide gas in a building is usually not constant - it can start and stop. So even if someone tests and does not find CO gas present, especially if your CO alarm has been sounding, you can NOT assume that conditions are safe in the building, and further expert visual inspection of heating equipment, chimneys, etc. are in order.
For example, simply closing the door to a boiler room where gas fired equipment is operating can cause sudden production of CO gas if there is insufficient combustion air when the door is closed. Yet when someone opens the door to inspect the area, more combustion air is provided. CO production may stop.
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IF YOU SUSPECT CARBON MONOXIDE POISONING GO INTO FRESH AIR IMMEDIATELY and get others out of the building, then call your fire department or emergency services for help. Links on this page also direct the reader to carbon dioxide gas information in a separate document. Seek prompt advice from your doctor or health/safety experts if you have any reason to be concerned about exposure to toxic gases. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal but exposure at lower limits can produce flu-like symptoms and headaches that are often mistaken for ordinary illness.
Carbon monoxide detector alarms may sound for a variety of reasons, but until you have diagnosed for sure why a particular alarm has sounded, you should assume that it has detected dangerous carbon monoxide indoors and you should follow our safety advice above.
Here are some causes of Carbon Monoxide Detector alarms sounding:
All of these conditions are dangerous. Follow our safety advice above
Safety Suggestions: Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors in addition to Smoke Detectors
Carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive and readily available, both as a battery-operated unit and as a unit that plugs into an electrical outlet in the home.
No home should be without this safety protection, and homes with gas-fired equipment (natural gas or LP propane), space heaters, or other sources of risk should be extra cautious. Smoke detectors do not protect against carbon monoxide poisoning, and the opposite is also true. Carbon monoxide detectors do not warn of smoke or fire.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about CO detectors - why CO or carbon monoxide alarms may be sounding off
I just bought a carbon monoxide detector about a month ago and when I came home today it was chirping and displayed LB for low battery. I was wondering if the alarm could of went off while I was at work and drained the battery and that's why it was chirping. - Jona 2/8/2012
Jona, chirping from a CO alarm means that it needs a new battery. The chirp is a signal, not a cause, of low battery problems.
why don't manufacturers of smoke alarms make them easier to read, instead of beige raised lettering on a beige background ? hard to replace battery when you cannot read directions - PoliceFan123 8/21/2012
Police: I agree that some embossed plastic instructions are hard to read. I suspect the underlying reason that these notes are not made in a different color combines an aesthetic opinion (for lettering on exposed surfaces) along with a wish to keep the product cost low as possible.
Here's a tip: before installing your next CO alarm or smoke detector, if you want to make its plastic embossed indicators, arrows, or instructions easier to read in the future, try just touching the raised lettering or symbols with a magic marker.
Questions & answers or comments about the behavior of CO detectors: what sets off carbon monoxide detectors, and is it always CO?
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