What to Do if Carbon Monoxide Alarm Goes off [3 Causes]

Are you here because you just smelt some toxic gas in your apartment, and your CO alarm didn’t ring? Unfortunately, if your CO alarm goes off or gives false alarms, it is not a rarity. There may be certain internal and external factors that may cause it.

So, can carbon monoxide detectors go off for no reason?

Yes, unfortunately, this is pretty common. Your carbon monoxide alarm may go off randomly due to internal and external factors. However, carbon monoxide is perhaps the only gas that humans need to avoid! It comes from partially burning wood, coal, and other carbon-containing materials. The consequences are very bad for human health if it does not find a space to evacuate.

Keep reading to learn the most common causes of carbon monoxide alarm going off, along with some hacks to fix it up.

why is my carbon monoxide detector going off

Why is my carbon monoxide detector going off?

If your Carbon monoxide detector goes, understandably, it would make you panic for a while. However, we believe you must take your next step vigilantly. First of all, you have to keep in mind that there are many reasons why your CO detector goes off!

Even when there is a small amount or traces of CO in any closed space, the detector will react! Therefore, you must think about the presence of CO in your surroundings and turn off the stoves or any burning furnaces. If you are in an RV, please turn off the engine because these engines are pretty much responsible for liberating CO gas.

Next in line, sometimes, worn-out batteries may cause false alarms as well. Perhaps, there is no CO in the atmosphere, yet the malfunctioning would make you nervous!

The other times, it is not about the batteries of the CO detector, but its life that has reached an end. Accordingly to manufacturers, people can benefit from a CO detector for five years and not more than that!

Also Read: How to turn off fire alarm in apartment

What causes carbon monoxide alarm to go off?

As mentioned earlier, there are different reasons why does a carbon monoxide alarm goes off. It could be true that there is CO present in your surrounding area, be it an RV, kitchen, home, garage, etc

Below are the causes for the carbon monoxide alarm to go off:

1. Carbon Monoxide’s presence in the surrounding

The first and foremost thing that would come to your mind when you see your CO detector going off is that you need to take measures because there is a trace of CO in your environment. Mostly, RVs are more prone to CO accumulation because of the constantly turned-on engine.

Therefore, even small traces of CO trigger the CO detector present in an RV. Usually, very little or no CO is present in residences; however, you have to be prepared for anything!

Therefore, you must turn off all the appliances that you think may produce CO. Also, please make the area well ventilated, while in cases of RV, please leave the vehicle!

Besides, you must look for the signs of CO poisoning in people around you; whether in an RV or at home, please do not ignore any symptoms of CO poisoning!

Furthermore, the maximum you can do is call an expert and get all your appliances checked so that such a thing does not happen again.

2. False alarms by CO detectors

There are several reasons why your CO detector tends to produce false alarms, which we will discuss later in the article. However, for now, you must remember that having a cheap and low-quality CO detector comes up with false alarms frequently.

In addition, closed spaces with burning appliances like stoves, heating furnaces, ovens, etc., are more prone to false alarms by CO detectors. This is because you must know that a little CO comes up whenever there is a burning process! However, if the area is open and ventilated well, the detector would never go off.

Not very often, but if there is a huge amount of petrol fumes in a closed space, that can also trigger a CO detector.

Also Read: How to turn off fire alarm in house

3. Your RV CO detector’s life has ended

According to most experts, even high-quality CO detectors do not last for more than five years. Therefore, another reason your CO detector in RV or at home goes off is that its life has reached an end.

However, you can still keep using the Safe T-Alert CO detector in an RV by pushing the reset button on the alarm. You can make use of the reset alarm for 30 days, but after that, you will need to replace it with the new one for sure!

What causes false CO alarms?

As mentioned earlier, false CO alarms can happen for many reasons. For example, at times, there is an accumulation of petrol fumes in a noticeable amount, which may trigger the CO detector.

Similarly, small traces of CO coming from faulty home appliances like stoves, ovens, heating furnaces, etc., can also give wrong signals to the CO detector, which would consequently go off.

Many times, people charge their car’s lead-acid batteries at home, which may trigger the CO alarm. These batteries produce hydrogen gas which makes your CO detector goes off, and you might take the alarm as a real one.

Last but not least, you must not forget that many times when your CO detector’s battery turns low, it would give sounds to enlighten you! However, undeniably, these sounds may stimulate false CO alarms.

Also Read: How to turn off fire alarm in building

Symptoms Of CO Poisoning

Everyone must know the basic symptoms that a person might feel when they have inhaled CO gas. Even the traces of CO gas are highly toxic for humans. Therefore, if a CO detector goes off in a particular area like a home, building, or RV, being a responsible human being, it is your responsibility to look for the signs of CO poisoning in people around you and yourself as well.

Below are the symptoms of CO poisoning:

  • Shortness of breath/difficulty in breathing.
  • Fast heart rate/palpitations.
  • Headaches that keep worsening.
  • Confused mental status/dizziness.
  • Nausea, vomiting, and other abdominal symptoms like cramps.
  • Chest tightness or choking pain.
  • Inability to judge time, place properly, and people around.

What to do if carbon monoxide alarm goes off?

First of all, you must keep in mind that Carbon monoxide is one of the most toxic gases to humans for a reason. That is, the poisonous gas does not produce any smell or taste. Besides, it is colorless. Therefore, you have to trust your CO detector if it sets off!

  • Your first measure consists of evacuating the closed space or RV right away along with all the people.
  • While you gather all the people before evacuating the space, you must open all the windows and doors of the area to allow the gas to escape.
  • Please do not forget to call an expert to deal with the situation.
  • Last but not least, please look for the symptoms of CO poisoning in people around you and get medical help if anyone’s health worsens!


What to do when carbon monoxide alarm goes off?

If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off, immediately get fresh air by opening doors and windows or leave the home. Then call 911 or your local fire department for assistance. Don’t go back inside the home until authorities say it is safe to do so.

What should I do if my carbon monoxide detector goes off while I am cooking?

Immediately stop what you are doing and leave the building or go to an area with fresh air. Open your windows, turn off any combustion appliances and call 911 or your local fire department. Don’t re-enter the home until a professional service person determines the home is safe.

If my carbon monoxide detector goes off, how many times will it alarm?

Carbon monoxide detectors are designed to alarm once for a real threat. They are not designed or intended to alarm repeatedly. If your alarms goes off again right after you turn the appliances back on, that is quite normal since any appliance can cause a temporary spike.

What should I do if my carbon monoxide detector goes off while I am sleeping?

If your carbon monoxide detector alarms, immediately get fresh air by opening doors and windows or leave the home. Then call 911 or your local fire department for assistance. Don’t go back inside the home until authorities say it is safe to do so.

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In Conclusion

Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, and poisonous gas. Therefore, it is always good to have CO detecting alarms installed in RV or closed spaces where there are fuel-producing batteries or engines. Your CO alarm goes off for several reasons; sometimes, it is a true alarm, while at times, it can be a false alarm as well.

In this article, we have tried our best to brief you on the causes of why your carbon monoxide alarm keeps going off, symptoms of CO poisoning, and what you should do when the alarm sets off! Hopefully, it will prove helpful!

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